Student Government Association updates students on progress
With sounds of construction echoing throughout Lamar University’s campus, the demolition of the Setzer Student Center continues. The building’s anticipated reopening is still set for January 2018.
Student Government President Aaron Lavergne wrote a letter to Lamar students last week to address the financial confusion associated with the cost of the renovation.
Before 2012, the Setzer Student Center Fee was $30 each long semester. In 2012, SGA conducted a survey to ask the student body if they were willing to accept an increase in fees in exchange for a newly renovated SSC,. Lavergne said students overwhelmingly agreed. The fee was raised to $100.
“As a student body, the decisions that somebody made years ago, or decisions that we make today, will affect somebody years on,” he said. “It has an effect like that. That’s essentially what happened within this process.”
Lavergne said he has dealt with much confusion about the renovation from students.
“A lot of our students are really concerned about it, so we felt, as SGA, that it was definitely good for us to look into it,” he said. “At the beginning, we didn’t necessarily know exactly why it was the $100 fee. We wanted to make sure that we clarify and make sure that our students were thought about with that fee.”
After a meeting with the some of the school’s vice presidents, Lavergne said SGA had answers.
“Additional funds were necessary in order to pay for the proposed renovations, hence the increase from $30 to $100 per long semester,” Lavergne wrote in the letter to students. “This $100 has been the Setzer Student Center fee since 2012.”
Lavergne said that, while it is unfortunate for students to be charged for the renovation without the chance of being able to use the facility, the renovation was necessary.
“You’ve got people that have long since graduated that never even saw construction, who left Lamar thinking, ‘Man, we’re never gonna get a new Set,’” he said. “At the end of the day, somebody bears the burden of it, and that’s just kind of how the cookie crumbles.”
The renovation for the SSC is estimated to cost $27.9 million, Lavergne wrote. To fund this project, LU took out a bond to be repaid in the upcoming years, which is obtained from the $100 fee charged to students.
“One of the things that we have to understand, as students, is that we’re at a public institution,” Lavergne said. “The way a lot of the things are funded are different.
“The student center is being funded by the students. That building is for our students — is for you. It’s specifically for you, so all our student services will be in that building, all the rooms will be available for students to use.
“I would just say, ‘Just bear with us within the construction time period, and when the new Set comes up, you’ll definitely be satisfied with the product that you’ve invested in.’”
Benny Tijerina, assistant superintendent for Skanska, said the construction group is still going through the demolition phase.
“We should be done with that here in the next few weeks,” he said. “(Right now, we’re) getting everything gutted out, down to the structure and we’re going from there.”
In addition to the renovation, the east side of the building will receive an add-on.
“The next big step, will be getting the site underground utilities in,” Tijerina said. “Once we get in all the utilities in, we’ll get this back area completely cleaned out. We’ll start pouring the foundation, erecting the steel, and then going up with the building, with the new addition.”
Lavergne said SGA is continuing to keep Lamar students informed.
“I think our goal is more to take a stance of bringing understanding to the situation,” he said. “As SGA, we are a liaison between the students and administration.
“The new Set is going to look completely different from our old Set, and there’s going to be a lot more functionality.
“Unfortunately, I guess some people won’t be able to enjoy it, but heck, that gives you a chance to come back as alumni and come see the new Set — what you paid for your whole time here.”
UP multimedia editor