Local News

October 20, 2013

‘Mixed feelings’

To fund student center expansion, DSC students could pay new fee

Dalton State College freshman Kaitlyn Kittle said she is sick of dodging wayward pingpong balls just to walk through the west hallway of the Pope Student Center.

She said the 30,000-square-foot student center, used mostly as a cafeteria or a “place to hang out,” is “too small” for a student body of approximately 5,000. Therefore, students who want to play pingpong do so in high traffic areas, Kittle said.

College administrators plan to propose a 40,000-square-foot expansion, as well as additional parking, to the state Board of Regents next month to make the college more appealing.

The expansion is expected to cost $13.6 million and be paid for exclusively with a $125 student fee charged each semester for at least 30 years, said Jodi Johnson, vice president of enrollment and student services at the college. The additional funds raised from the fee will pay for interest on construction bonds, which means the final price tag for expansion could be higher than $30 million, Johnson said.

This is the second year college officials have proposed such a fee. Last year, members of the Board of Regents, which approves all public college construction, nixed the project because college officials were also asking for several other fees, DSC President John O. Schwenn said.

Last year college officials raised the athletic fee from $50 to $83 a semester and added a recreation fee of $20 a semester. Those fees were approved to help get new college sports, such as women’s volleyball and men’s basketball, up and running.

The verdict on the new fee could be decided as early as spring 2014, Schwenn said.

If the Board of Regents does approve the plan, it could be several years before groundbreaking, college officials said, with most upperclassmen likely never seeing the center for themselves.

What the new center will look like will be “up to students,” said Johnson. Several ideas include a bigger cafeteria, more meeting rooms and multipurpose space for student activities, she added. The current center only has one meeting space that is usually overbooked by clubs and groups, several students said.

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