EMU renovation on hold in effort to reduce cost to students
It’s confusing, outdated and dilapidated. Robin Holmes, vice president of student affairs, calls it “The heart and hub of campus.” She’s right, but even she and the people who love the old building the most will acknowledge how run-down@@http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/[email protected]@ the EMU has become. The ASUO, the student unions, the arts and craft center and this very publication have all called the EMU home for decades, but the building is behind the times and increasingly worn down.@@http://www.uoregon.edu/findpeople/person/Robin*[email protected]@
Ten years ago, the University began planning a massive renovation and expansion of the EMU, but the plan failed to pass in back-to-back referendums submitted to students last year. The situation worsened last August, when there was widespread outcry over a quickly abandoned attempt by the University to hire a PR firm.
After these events, Michael Gottfredson, the newly appointed University president, appointed a select committee to explore options for the future of the EMU. @@http://www.uoregon.edu/findpeople/person/Michael*[email protected]@
The committee includes vice presidents across the administration, including Holmes, Jamie Moffitt of finance and administration and Kimberly Espy of research. Students are represented on the committee by ASUO Vice President Nick McCain. @@http://vpfa.uoregon.edu/content/[email protected]@ @@http://www.uoregon.edu/findpeople/person/Kimberly*[email protected]@
Thursday morning, Gottfredson heard the findings of the committee, which included ideas for reducing costs to students. Gottfredson’s demeanor at the meeting was decidedly neutral. After the discussion, he did not indicate whether he would support another referendum.
University spokesperson Joe Mosley said that Moffit, who is also the University CFO, convened the committee and she and Holmes have “taken the lead” in discussing the progress of the group and discussing possible options for an EMU expansion with Gottfredson. @@http://www.uoregon.edu/findpeople/person/Joe*[email protected]@
Currently, the project is slated to cost $135 million, which will be funded through state bonds. Paying off those bonds would require a student fee. @@http://renovation.uoregon.edu/emu-faq/@@
In June 2011, the Oregon State Board of Higher Education announced it didn’t want to saddle students with a fee unless the students agreed to it through a vote. Two unsuccessful referendums later, the majority of voting students remain unconvinced that the expansion is worth it.
The University’s latest strategy has been focused on figuring ways to reduce the fee as much as possible. According to EMU Interim Director Wendy Polhemus,@@http://emu.uoregon.edu/[email protected]@the latest estimate would be $79 every term for every student over the next 20 to 30 years.
But the committee is running out of options. It has reached the point where any further cuts to the expansion could mean removing some feature or student space already promised to other groups.
As it stands, the EMU is in urgent need of repairs and maintenance. The University website detailing the expansion plans states that EMU “deferred maintenance is estimated at $12 million.” Maintenance is a waste of money, though, if the school is planning to tear part of the building down.
Fervent supporters of the EMU expansion plan are wavering, and the situation is at the point where the University either needs to attempt a third referendum, or give the go-ahead for repairs and close the door on the expansion idea indefinitely.
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