SA support for expansion grows

By Chris Nelson

A plan to expand NIU’s Office of Campus Recreation is garnering strong support from the Student Association.

The plan would expand the OCR by adding two all-purpose gymnasiums and adding weight room space.

According to Rico de Lara, assistant director of financial affairs for the SA, a survey conducted two years ago outlined a need to alleviate overcrowding caused by the increased use of the OCR.

De Lara is also the chairperson of the Campus Recreation Committee (CRC), which is sponsoring a petition drive to help gauge student sentiments concerning the proposed improvements.

The plan, which must be approved by NIU’s governing board, the Board of Regents, consists of borrowing on bonds approved for the Campus Life Building and the parking structure. A 45 cent per credit hour increase in student fees also would be included in the plan.

Students now pay about $22 in student fees for the center. Under the plan, students would pay about $5.40 more in fees.

The petition is intended to show the Regents student support for the expansion plan. De Lara said the drive needs to attain at least 7,000 signatures by the next meeting of the Regents in October to successfully exhibit strong student support for the proposal.

De Lara said tables will be set up in the center’s lobby, the Center Cafe (formerly the Pow Wow) and DuSable Hall to help collect signatures. De Lara also said Greg Snyder and Lisa Joniak, who are both affiliated with the SA, are being enlisted to gather support among the Greek community. De Lara himself is trying to reach other sectors of the student population, such as students who live in the residence halls.

Cost projections range from $2 million to $2.25 million, depending upon the availability of finances.

A visit to the center on Wednesday yielded nothing but support for the proposal despite the accompanying fee increase.

“The weight room is always so crowded. I’d be happy to pay a few extra cents to improve conditions here,” said NIU senior Mark Modert.

“NIU is much bigger than it was ten years ago,” said Anthony Keany, another NIU senior. “This is a good facility but it needs to expand to accommodate the growing student population.”

De Lara said the coming month will either make or break the proposal, so the SA is being aggressive in its movement to get student signatures. Anyone with questions regarding the project or the petition drive is encouraged to contact the SA office at 753-0482.