Thursday, November 22

Fee hike would speed improvements


If a student union fee increase receives campus-wide approval in
May’s student elections, UCLA may see updated and new food
facilities on campus earlier than anticipated.

According to the most recent draft of the Associated Students of
UCLA fee referendum, which was approved by the undergraduate and
graduate students associations last month, the fee increase could
go toward capital projects, student programming support and wage
adjustments for students, full-time food service and custodial
workers.

The SAFE referendum ““ named for its relevance to students,
activities, facilities and employees ““ is designed to
increase the annual student union fee of $7.50 over the following
school years.

SAFE would start with a $12 annual student union fee in the
2006-2007 school year and would increase by $12 each school year
until the 2009-2010 school year, when the fee would be $48. It
would then be adjusted every three years for inflation.

Capital projects, which include the construction of new
facilities and the retrofitting of current facilities, would use
the majority of the fee increase, said Richard Delia, finance
director for ASUCLA.

By the 2009-2010 school year, 65 to 70 percent of the fee would
go toward capital projects. Support for student programming would
increase from the current $225,000 to $325,000, and hourly student
wages would increase 50 cents, Delia said.

If SAFE passes, increases to student wages and student
programming would start next year, one year before ASUCLA begins
implementing the student fee, he said.

Capital project changes are long overdue, said Bob Williams,
interim executive director of ASUCLA, adding that some facilities
have gone 30 or 40 years without retrofitting, such as the North
Campus Student Center adjacent to Northern Lights.

The ASUCLA Board of Directors has been pushing to retrofit
current facilities and construct new ones earlier than the SAFE
referendum proposed, Williams said.

According to its Food Services Master Plan, ASUCLA has intended
to update many of its food facilities. ASUCLA is obligated to keep
its facilities up to date, and the fee would help keep the
associations in a position to meet food service obligations, he
said.

The Cooperage on Ackerman Union’s A-level is slated to be
open after updating in the 2008-2009 school year on the referendum
draft, but could be finished as early as fall 2006 if the fee
increase is passed.

The opening of a South Campus Student Center similar to the
North Campus Student Center is also proposed for the 2007-2008
school year.

“South Campus students have been asking for that for
years,” Williams said.

Currently, the Bombshelter is the eatery in the Court of
Sciences, but does not have many of the amenities like indoor study
spaces or a student store available in North Campus in both LuValle
Commons and the North Campus Student Center. ASUCLA is planning to
upgrade the Bombshelter site into a facility that has both indoor
study spaces and restaurants with larger kitchens.

The fee referendum draft also states that the construction of a
healthy-foods restaurant on campus is proposed to start in the
2006-2007 school year. But if the SAFE referendum is passed, the
construction of this new restaurant could be pushed up to as early
as the upcoming fall quarter, Williams said.

“(The healthy-foods restaurant) is such an exciting idea
that people really like … so we’re trying to move that on
the fast track,” he said.

Though second-year English student Mandy Sutton described the
potential fee increase as a “moderate” one, she
believed that the changes were not necessary unless there were
safety issues.

“I’d rather not pay the money and keep the food we
have now,” Sutton said.

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