Privilege fees set to increase for Union expansion


A student studying in Hale Library is using a space funded by previous K-State students. So are people listening to the squeaking of basketball players’ shoes and cheers for the Wildcats in Bramlage Coliseum. A group of students playing volleyball in the Chester E. Peters Recreation Complex are also using a space provided by others. All these spaces are available to K-Staters thanks to the support of past and current students.

For decades, K-State students have paid it forward by supporting programs that benefit future students. The next project to be funded by students for students will be the expansion of the current K-State Student Union.

Union expansion approval was announced by the Student Governing Association on April 1. Of the 3,351 votes cast, about 75 percent were in favor of the renovation. Had the “yes” votes not won by more than 60 percent, the expansion would not have been approved.

SGA will now work with the university to move forward with the building improvements. Over the coming year, final plans will be made for the $25 million project.

Funding of the union development will be offset by an increase in student privilege fees. For the next three decades, students’ fees will include a $20 per semester fee that will assist in paying for the expansion. A student who completes their bachelor’s degree in four years will pay $160 of the renovations. The fee increase will not begin until the fall of 2014.

With continued funding cuts to higher education, it is possible that the fee will be re-purposed after the three decades of being used to pay for the expansion. Because of the privilege fee increase, students have full control over the future of this fee through SGA.

“In order for student privilege fees to increase for a major construction or renovation project, students have to vote through a student referendum approving the project,” Ryan Patterson, SGA Privilege Fee Chair, said. “This has been done several times and all started with the construction of the original K-State Student Union.”

The current Union was voted on by students in 1938. At the time of the passing of the Union building project, students approved paying an additional $5 in privilege fees, equivalent to $80 today.

“The Union is already really nice because of past students paying for it. I get that.” Orlando Petty, freshman in computer engineering, said. “I really wish it would be funded in other ways, though. Plus, I think there has been enough updates to the Union so far.”

The Union has undergone several renovations and expansions over the years, all funded by student privilege fees. The Union is funded by students for students and is a separate entity from the university to serve the students of K-State.

Overall, the project’s goal will be to project a positive image for K-State while providing a “campus living room” all K-Staters can be proud of.

The project calls for upgrades to make the Union easier to navigate. This will include a central elevator, relocation of restrooms so they are located together and a new southwest entrance that will provide access to all building levels.

Distance education students or those taking classes at K-State Salina will not be affected by the fee increase. The funding of the Union will only apply to undergraduate students taking nine or more credit hours on the Manhattan campus and graduate students taking six or more credit hours on the Manhattan campus.

“I feel like I am upholding a responsibility of up keeping the student Union,” Brealyn Asbury, freshman in arts and science with open option, said. “Also, knowing my fee is going somewhere means I know I am getting something back, even though I will graduate before the expansion is complete. I am still going to be an alumni so I will be coming back to K-State. Hopefully my kids and my grandkids will come here too. If I can make a better future for them and other K-State students, why not?”