Life Center plans delayed

By Caryn Rosenberg

Plans for NIU’s controversial $7 million Student Life Center temporarily are on hold, but officials’ reasons for the delay differ.

Discussions concerning the 56,000-square-foot building originally were scheduled to be heard at this month’s Board of Regents meeting, but now are delayed.

Eddie Williams, vice president of Finance and Planning, said further discussions concerning the center will not happen until the Regents meeting in March.

Williams said the reason for the delay is because of the “logistics of dealing with one (issue) at a time instead of two or three.”

The center is “not an item for the January board meeting because we are first dealing with general financing issues,” Williams said. “Then we’ll get back onto specific projects.”

However, Barbara Henley, vice president for Student Affairs, said the delay is the result of financial difficulties.

“It’s on hold in light of the entire budgetary situation,” she said.

Despite the controversy surrounding the building, Henley said she thinks the delay will have no effect on decisions concerning the building.

“If something’s on hold, it’s just on hold.”

But student Regent James Mertes said he thinks the delay can be helpful to those who oppose the center.

Mertes said because of limited funds, the university needs to prioritize and the proposed center should not be at the top of the list.

“It gives more time to reconsider (the project),” Mertes said. “And that’s two more months to hear student concerns.”

Administrators argue that the center is needed because some campus organizations, such as Career Planning and Placement, University Programming and Activities and Counseling and Student Development, are in need of more room to operate efficiently.

In addition, administrators said the center could be a place for commuting students to keep their things while on campus.

In order to help fund the center, however, NIU is planning to raise student fees from $35 to $45.

Many of those who oppose the center say they think the building is unnecessary, especially at a time when financial cutbacks and freezes are dominant.