ASUU leaders hope for student life center

By By Rochelle McConkie

By Rochelle McConkie

In the near future, a student life center could be coming to the U campus.

During the first week of October, the Associated Students of the University of Utah President Jake Kirkham and Vice President Toby Collett traveled to Ohio State University for three days to tour its new student life center, acclaimed as one of the best centers on college campuses nationwide.

Traveling with Kirkham and Collett were state Rep. Gregg Buxton, R-Roy, U Vice President of Student Affairs Barb Snyder, Campus Recreation Director Mary Bohlig, ASUU Government Relations Director Ingrid Price and Assistant Government Relations Director Jessie Fawson. The trip was financed by the U administration.

For many years, ASUU has been trying to pass legislation to build a student life center. Resolutions have gone through three administrations and numerous polls have been conducted to show student desire for the center.

Last year, the resolution was rejected by the Utah State Legislature. ASUU Press Secretary Cameron Beech said the Legislature didn’t believe students were really in favor of the center, questioning polling techniques.

In the upcoming January legislative session, Kirkham and Collett hope to pass the resolution and immediately begin the project.

The Ohio State University Student Life Center features aquatics, eight basketball courts, racquetball courts, a wellness center, cardio equipment, free weights, a food court, classrooms, kitchens and more.

During the trip, the group was able to meet with the Ohio State campus recreational director, the vice president of student government and many students at the center, each giving them positive feedback.

“(Going to Ohio) gave us an opportunity to see firsthand that the student life center really provides a way for students to come together,” Collett said. “They can eat, they can study, they can work out-it’s a real campus life builder. It creates a community on campus for students.”

Collett also learned that throughout the nation, studies have shown that academic performance increases with a student life center on campus.

ASUU hopes to emulate the Ohio State student life center, but on a smaller scale to accommodate differences between the schools. Ohio State has 55,000 students, while the U has roughly 29,000.

Currently, ASUU is approaching donors to alleviate costs for the center, which would be paid for through student fees. While the cost will depend on the amount raised by donations, student fees would increase at the most by $50 or $60.

If the resolution is passed by the Legislature in January, plans for the center will begin right away, but the facility may not be built for several years. “Building on campus is a long process, but it will be initiated immediately,” Kirkham said.

The student life center will be built near the U golf course, where the old dorms used to be, providing easy access for campus Residence Halls students.

Kirkham said the center will be a place where academics, recreation, leisure and a healthy lifestyle can come together. “It will be more than just a rec center,” he said. “It’s all-encompassing of student wants and desires.”