New Union expansion project would raise tuiton fees for Sacramento State students

Daisy Aguilar

Sacramento State students may see an increase in their tuition fees starting next semester if the Union WELL Expansion Project is passed by students.

Sac State President Alexander Gonzalez and the University Union Board of Directors are in the process of speaking to 2,000 students throughout campus to inform them of the new expansion project.  

If passed, it will increase the University Union tuition fee from $209.50 to $459.50 and would take effect spring 2014.

“Over the last year it became pretty clear that the WELL and the Union, especially the WELL, have been such a success that it is already being overused and students are outgrowing it,” Gonzalez said during a town hall meeting Thursday.

Executive Director of the Union WELL Leslie Davis said despite the flat enrollment pattern, there has been overcrowding and a lack of seating for students at the Union and the WELL.

The main goal of the expansion is to include more space and amenities to meet the needs of the students.

The expansion plan would include a 300-seat movie theater, a 2,000-seat ballroom, casual food services with seating, additional locker rooms and meeting rooms.

The largest expansion of the project would include a 5,000 to 6,000 seat indoor arena where commencement ceremonies, concerts and special events would be held.

The estimated total cost of the expansion project is about $175 to $182 million, with a payoff date of 30 years.

The project would be funded by student fees, outside fundraising and generated revenue.

In the past, many students have not been able to attend special events because of the limited space. Club meetings have also been pushed into classrooms due to the small amount of meeting rooms.

Gonzalez said the student body is slowly growing and with the popularity of the both the WELL and the Union, students are not able to utilize the resources that are offered.

“It’s to the point where it’s over saturated,” Gonzalez said. “I have been here early in the morning and students are already camping out, setting aside their space where they’re going to be for them and their friends for the rest of the day.”

Gonzalez said with a student enrollment of nearly 29,000, more than 22,000 students have used the resources at the WELL since its opening back in 2010.

The large number of students using the recreational facility is causing long lines, limiting machine and weight use and locker space.

Davis said peak hours have soared. Peak hours used to be from 4 p.m to 7 p.m. Now they are 2 p.m to 9 p.m.

“If you come around campus around 9 o’clock, it’s amazing how many people are walking down the walkway towards the WELL,” Davis said.

If there is enough support, the action will be made into a referendum that would then need to be passed by students. Faculty is not able to make a decision due to the Union belonging to the student body.

The plans indicate the expansion being built on Lot 8 next to the Alumni Center.

Although the expansion project comes with its list of benefits for the student body, some students are worried about the fee increase and low number of students the board is reaching out to.

Government and sociology major De’Anthony Jones presented his opinion during the town hall meeting.

“It’s a project with great potential,” Jones said. “I like the idea of leaving something behind.”

Although Jones likes the idea, his main concern is the outreach. He said he believes the board can do a better job in reaching out to students all over campus by sending out a questionnaire through mass emails rather than only emailing those who attend the meetings.

Senior visual archeology, contemporary art history film theory studies and art sculpture major, Megan Ortanez, shared similar thoughts but said the project is aimed towards students more interested in entertainment.

She said the project is not focusing on the complexity of the entire student body and her main concern is the fee increase.

“The fees are definitely my concern for all students,” Ortanez said. “Our fees are constantly being raised, nearly every semester, it’s so ridiculous.”