Preliminary plans for new center under fire

By Jean Dobrzynski

Preliminary plans for a Student Life Building were under fire at Sunday’s Student Association Senate meeting, leaving many questions unanswered.

Vice President of Finance and Planning Eddie Williams estimated the new 48,000 square foot facility would cost between $6.5 and $7 million, and could be implemented through a student fee hike.

“We have not discussed financial strategies yet, but right now we are looking at a $35 to $45 increase (in student fees) per year,” he said.

Williams explained this was only a ballpark figure and nothing will be finalized until the December Board of Regents meeting.

With NIU in a budget crunch, Williams said he is concerned with the image this will portray to students and administrators.

“The money for this project is an appropriation from the state that cannot be crossed over to other things,” he said. “With low interest rates in the economy right now, the project is looking much more favorable in terms of cost.”

Williams said three potential sites are being reviewed: the visitor’s parking lot on Normal Road and Lucinda Avenue, the parking lot across from Watson Creek and an area near the Chick Evans Fieldhouse.

Williams said parking analysts have been surveying the areas and are looking into the parking problem this could cause.

Vice President for Student Affairs Barbara Henley said NIU is lacking adequate space for the services and activities it offers.

She said current space for Career Planning and Placement, Programming and Activities and Counseling and Student Development are in need of more room to operate efficiently.

“In order to attract employers to campus we must improve our present facilities … they are not very attractive and we need to improve them,” she said.

Henley also said the building could be a place for commuting students to keep their things while on campus.