SGA resolution approves $25m Matthews renovations

Almost three weeks after the Matthews Arena renovation proposal first reached the President of the Student Government Association’s (SGA) e-mail inbox, senators surveyed about 1,200 students and composed a resolution stating their approval, leaving some senators questioning why it was rushed.

The Sense of the Senate, written by Vice President for Financial Affairs Chris Kelley and Senators Joey Fiore, Pat Kelly and Laura Musano, states SGA’s support for the renovations and for the construction of a new complex adjacent to Matthews Arena.

The Sense, submitted by the Ad-hoc Committee for Matthews Arena Renovations, demands student input on renovation decisions through a committee of students and administrators. It also states that groundbreaking should start no sooner than June 1 and the renovations should in no way affect the building of a multi-purpose athletic facility on campus.

At Thursday’s senate meeting, some senators said it was unfair for the administration to present the proposal on such short notice.

President Rogan O’Handley was first informed about the concept Feb. 8. Senior Vice President Philomena Mantella wanted his initial opinion of the idea and to discuss where to go from there, O’Handley said.

“I first brought it to the SGA e-board, then to senate and then to the entire student body,” O’Handley said.

The proposal was introduced to the senators Feb. 15 and the board of trustees will vote March 1. This allowed senators two weeks to talk with their constituents and present a Sense of the Senate regarding the $25 million proposal.

The concept for the renovations came to life at the end of 2006, O’Handley said, and architectural drawings were made a few weeks later.

“The administration wasn’t purposely trying to rush it, it just happened that way,” O’Handley said.

Senator Bill Durkin said the entire process was too quick.

“For a project of such magnitude, solely geared toward students, we should have more than one week to consider it,” Durkin said. “There are still many questions on how [the project] will be paid for, how much it will exactly cost and if this is really a priority for the university.”

With only one senate meeting to discuss the issue and only five minutes of general debate time, Durkin said he was uneasy about the decision.

“I wasn’t comfortable saying I want to spend $25 million on this,” he said.

Durkin proposed an amendment that would add a clause to the legislation stating the student body’s dissatisfaction with the pace, but the senate voted against it.

“I think it was important to express that opinion. Twenty-three senators voted for the amendment and even though it didn’t pass, that opinion was still voiced,” Durkin said.

Had this proposal been presented earlier, or if SGA had more time to discuss it, students would have a better understanding of the entire project, Durkin said.

O’Handley said this wouldn’t change the outcome.

“I think it would still have the same amount of support. The only difference is that people would have been able to ask more questions and calm their fears,” he said.

Senators requested more time for the entire process, and Durkin said he hopes since it was rushed, students will be more involved in the planning process, as was requested in the Sense of the Senate.

“Senators did a good job in surveying the student body, but this was over and done with in a flash,” Durkin said.

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