Students raise renovation questions at forum

After some senators voiced concern at Thursday’s Student Government Association (SGA) senate meeting about plans to renovate Matthews Arena, the renovation sub-committee hosted a forum last night for students to ask questions.

SGA senators spent the past 36 hours surveying more than 650 students and found the majority of students agree with the renovations, but about one-third of those surveyed were against it.

Senator Joey Fiore, who chaired the Matthews Arena Renovations sub-committee with SGA Vice President for Financial Affairs Chris Kelley, said 650 students was not the best representation of the university, but SGA wanted to get an “initial feel.”

Before questioning began, Fiore and Kelley presented a slideshow outlining the renovations and costs, and creating a timeline for the construction of the adjacent building.

One of the main concerns expressed by students was the multi-purpose stadium Northeastern proposes to build.

University Vice President for Student Affairs Ed Klotzbier, also present at the forum, said the project is not a replacement for the stadium, but serves as an “immediate return” to the students. The funding for the stadium will not be affected, he said.

“This is a way to put our footprint in a building now,” Kelley said.

The other main concern voiced by many students was where the $25 million will come from.

Kelley said the main source of the funds will come from a loan. The operating budget, a pool of money that accumulates from tuition increases, will be used to slowly pay off the loans in 25 to 30 years. The Campus Recreation Fee will also be used to pay off the loans.

Klotzbier said the university is already taking out a loan to pay for the newly approved residence halls, and will therefore borrow more money for the Matthews Arena renovations.

“While we’re out in the market, we’re going to borrow a couple of extra dollars,” Klotzbier said.

Jesse Jolly, a senior human services major, expressed concern as to why this money is not going to other parts of the campus that need it more like, academic buildings.

“You’re paying a recreation fee, the money should go to recreation and not to something else,” Klotzbier said.

Klotzbier said the building to be created next to Matthews Arena will also be used for general programming space.

It is difficult for many student groups to book a space to host events, and this building will offer more rooms to student groups, he said.

“If we’re doing it right, there should be something going on in all free spaces,” Klotzbier said.

Pat Kelly, a sophomore physical therapy major, asked if the adjacent building will have a room with a ceiling taller than 35 feet for the cheerleading team to practice in.

Klotzbier, unaware the cheerleading squad needs such a high ceiling, said these are the kinds of issues students need to discuss with administration when the time for planning comes.

Jolly also asked what would happen if the board of trustees, which is voting on this issue next week, does not approve the proposal.

Klotzbier said the board is likely to approve the plan, as they are usually supportive of athletics and recreation and are usually the ones at all athletic games.

“We’re hoping students will support it and will work with us and tell us what they want to see done,” Klotzbier said.

Tim Roche, a sophomore communications major who plays club hockey and baseball, was in support of the proposal.

“If I had $25 million, I’d pay for this myself,” Roche said.

SGA President Rogan O’Handley invited all students to join Thursday’s senate meeting to voice their opinions before the SGA votes on legislation, a “Sense of the Senate,” to state the student body’s official opinion on the renovations and new facility.

Leave a Reply