Arena promotes grad ceremonies on campus, hiked student fees

Kellie McCown

Professor Tim Howard’s public relations students have been at work this semester with a campaign that will change the face of Sacramento State: a new campus arena and event center, claimed to be the future campus gem and improve the college experience, at the expense of a proposed $219 student fee.

“Right now we are telling our students we are a commuter college,” Howard said. “The college experience is to interact, have fun, and have face-to-face contact with your professors.”

To bring more beneficial experiences to future Sac State students, the arena, projected to seat 5,000 for commencement ceremonies, will also have a three-story student activity center, potentially house career fairs, have 24-hour study facilities and more restaurant choices; including a possible pub.

“This facility will give students more involvement for student life,” said campaign president Tyler Smith. “I believe that this arena could be a future gem of Sacramento State.”

The facility proposed by the current campaign first surfaced in 2004 when it was partnered with the building of The Well. A student vote failed to gain enough campus support in 2006 to pass the building of the structure, with students unwilling to pay a new fee in light of tuition hikes and looming budget cuts to higher education.

If the student vote passes now, the projected $219 student fee will go into effect Fall 2015, and will rise depending on inflation, making Sac State the sixth CSU campus with the highest-imposed student fees.

In order for the proposal to pass, 50 percent plus one of all student votes must be in favor of the arena and student fee, according to Smith.

“Not every student is going to be voting for this,” Howard said. “On top of education costs, it’s another $219, and I get that. But this arena will be enriching the campus culture for future students.”

With college costs the highest in history and higher education a favorite to budget cuts, some students are not willing to pay another student fee.

“We’re adding fees onto the overall cost of our education,” said government major Sandi-Belle Khani. “With outdated computer programs and classrooms, we’re making the pros of Sac State basically null with this facility.”

Sociology major Santos Pacheco also disagrees with the new arena and proposed student fee, saying the focus of the student public relations campaign should be more academically focused.

“They aren’t valuing our education,” Pacheco said. “They’re valuing what our campus looks like. $219 for someone who is not going to be here when it’s built. That fee is going to affect 25,000 students now. How is that going to affect future students?”

Last month, Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill that would have given CSUs $50 million for maintenance costs. Although all funds provided by the state would have gone into academic buildings and not independently-owned student facilities, Khani feels that campus campaigns should be focused on improving student academics.

“We want our degrees to matter,” Khani said, “We should be investing in our classrooms and not outward perceptions.”

According to Smith, it is important for Sac State to offer buildings that offer extra curricular activities, as well as buildings that house academics.

“Non-academic buildings are the things that students remember about the campus,” Smith said. “And that comes out of student fees. This arena will be a part of the student experience that we can’t get solely out of academic buildings.”

Smith, who will not see the completion of the arena or be able to graduate in it while attending Sac State, says that although current students will not personally experience the proposed facility, it is still an investment for the future.

“I’m not going to have the opportunity to graduate at the new arena either,” Smith said. “But this arena is our way of paying it forward to future generations, to make Sac State the best campus it could be.”

Students will be able to cast their vote for the proposed arena and $219 fee online on Dec. 2 and 3.