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SGA forgoes Culp Center renovation

By Jessica Fuller
On January 22, 2014

Students not wishing to see a fee increase in upcoming semesters can breathe easier as East Tennessee State University's Student Government Association executives officially terminated the pending D.P. Culp University Center fee legislation over winter break.
"We felt like the overwhelming opinion of the students was that they're not ready for this," SGA Vice President Caroline Baird said.
"We just didn't feel like the proper education had happened, we didn't want to blindside anyone. We wanted to make sure that the students knew exactly what this process was."
The amended legislation that was proposed at the end of last semester would have required a $25 student fee that the university would have matched to reach the full $50-per-student fee.
However, one of the reasons SGA executives pulled the legislation was that the university couldn't supply the funds.
"That's a beautiful idea and I wish we could have done that," Baird said. "That would have been the university matching the students so the students wouldn't feel like they're handing the full blunt force of the fee. If they had that money, they would take it and put it toward renovation."
SGA President Mike Wallace said that he and other SGA members got a lot of criticism from students regarding the fee.
"We were receiving a lot of feedback from students saying that they wanted more time and education with this process," he said. "We found out that there are a lot of students who want to see changes in our Culp Center, but the timing in those changes needs to have a little more discussion before moving forward."
The senate was scheduled to take a final vote on the legislation Tuesday, but because it was pulled due to student reaction and the university not being able to fund its half of the fee, the piece of legislation has been closed for discussion within the senate.
However, it is possible that the idea will resurface in the future.
"We will still be having discussions with students and seeing their opinion on moving forward with the Culp Center," Wallace said, "and it could be brought back up in the future by the new executive team or in a different kind of legislation."
SGA officials also felt a lot of pushback from students due to the fees that were recently implemented.
"We just didn't want anyone to feel like we were trying to push this on them because sometimes students feel that way," Baird said.
"Yes, it is important to renovate the Culp Center, but there are more important things to be done."
Even though the legislation concerning major renovations was struck down, it is still possible for the senate to pass resolutions for smaller changes in the Culp Center, such as installing charging stations and updating maps.
"We were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to open doors for discussion about the Culp Center and what changes need to be made so we are looking at and possibly making some smaller changes with legislation in the Culp Center," Wallace said.
Baird said that after hearing students' concerns, she doesn't regret the decision to terminate the legislation.
"I understand completely why the students are upset," she said. "I personally felt that this piece of legislation, while the intentions were good and within the next five or 10 years is going to be needed, I don't think it's the right time for it, I think there are more important things going on."

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