The Associated Students of the University of New Mexico (ASUNM) and the Graduate and Professional Student Association (GPSA) hosted a joint forum Wednesday, highlighting plans for new buildings and facility renovations on the UNM campus.
“We’re here to let the students know what these buildings are going to do for them, how much the renovations are going to cost, [and] why it’s important for them to know what’s going on,” said ASUNM President Jenna Hagengruber.
“We want to make sure that we are hearing from our constituents, so we really worked hard to make sure that this forum would allow them the opportunity to talk and to leave information for us so that we can make sure that we are representing them appropriately,” said Texanna Martin, GPSA president.
The forum featured the university’s capital priorities and outlined five projects that have the top building needs around campus:
- Physics & Astronomy (PAIS) building
- Anderson School of Management building
- Renovation of Smith Plaza/Union Square
- UNM Children’s Campus
- Johnson Center Expansion & Renewal (JCER)
The projects will, in part, be paid for through the use of institutional bonds. Many times, those dollars are used to leverage matching funds from state and federal sources to completely pay for multimillion dollar construction projects. Over time, the bonds would be paid back through an increase in student fees, a big reason why ASUNM & GPSA wanted to host the forum.
“If these bonds do pass, and these institutional buildings are allowed to go through the renovation process, this will directly affect students,” said Hagengruber.
But even with the likely increase to student fees, Hagengruber said every student she spoke with at the forum was excited about the proposals.
“A lot of the renovations are for our student safety as well, so I figure it’s important even if the student fees are a little higher,” said Chelsea Jones, a senior political science major.
“I’m really excited about it. I think it’s really long overdue for a lot of these buildings,” said Ph.D. student Mark Orgeron.
Project experts were on hand to answer questions and take feedback and input from students. GPSA President Martin said a popular topic was the proposed renovations of the Johnson Center.
“As a student working out in Johnson, the hours are terrible because they just don’t have the space,” said graduate student James Hendrie.
Originally built in 1952, the Johnson Center costs over $1 million a year to maintain due to its aging infrastructure. It’s also a very heavily used facility on campus, last year, seeing more than 1.3 million visitors. Students say a newly renovated space there and in other areas of campus would be a big plus for them.
“I think they’re all really good proposals, I think they’re things that this campus really needs,” said Orgeron.
The plans will be presented to the Board of Regents on Tuesday, Sept. 8. If approved, they will still need support from the New Mexico Higher Education Department and the state Board of Finance before work could begin.
Learn more about the 2015 Institutional Bonds here.