Jones: LSC and Health Center expansions beneficial, necessary
Published: Monday, October 29, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 29, 2012 23:10
This year I voted ‘yes’ on the Homecoming ballot student referendums to increase tuitions fees to expand the Lowman Student Center and Student Health Center. Why? Because I believe these projects will liven up and modernize our campus’ appearance, satisfy student, facility and staff demands, and expand facilities to support the increasing student population.
While I don’t particularly enjoy having my tuition increased, as I already struggle to afford each semester’s payments, I don’t mind paying approximately $100 to have some more entertainment around here. My approval vote, as well as 63.48 percent of other students’ votes, will help construct a necessary, fun-filled student center that will benefit the needs of students and the emergent student body.
The current LSC can only service a population of 12,500 people with its 125,000 square foot capacity. This poses a problem because Sam Houston State University is steadily growing to more than 18,000 students enrolled. The LSC was not designed to handle this abundance of students and lacks the necessities of a true student center.
Students at SHSU have been begging for improvements to the LSC for years. In spring 2010, students asked the LSC for upgrades and additional entertainment to be added to the Kat Klub. They wanted a brighter space to hang out with TVs, video gaming and more computer spaces. According to Dan McDaniel, director of the LSC, after these renovations were made, student traffic to the Kat Klub increased by 44 percent while program attendance increased by 92 percent. The amount of student traffic to the Kat Klub has grown by 10 percent since last year.
The renovations serve to fulfill student needs with the additions of an arcade, a six-to-eight lane bowling alley and pub in the Kat Club. The university has a highly rated women’s bowling team and the bowling alleys will fit their needs for practice and tournaments. An on-campus pub would allow students to have a safer area to drink and spend time with friends.
Students will also have more dining areas with indoor and outdoor seating, which is something we can all look forward to.
There have also been issues regarding overcrowding and lack of space for on-campus and off-campus groups who want to meet inside the LSC. The current LSC ballroom is the only meeting facility on campus that can support large events, such as banquets, career fairs and blood drives. Many of the third-floor meeting rooms are booked and times for student organizations to meet are limited; demand for rooms was so high last year that the LSC had to extend its hours, from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m., in order to increase the number of opportunities for groups to meet. With the approved referendum, the second level of the LSC will feature more meeting rooms, event space and an 11,000 square foot grand ballroom.
Let’s not forget about the Student Health Center expansion. According to a Today@Sam press release regarding the referendums, the current student health facility, built in 1965, supports a population that is “222 percent larger than the 5,743 enrolled students”from that time; this makes it difficult for students to be seen when they need to be and the facility lacks physicians.
SHC director Sarah Hanel told Today@Sam that students attended approximately 20,000 appointments for a variety of medical issues last year and the health center had to turn away 206 students in the beginning of the semester because they had no open appointments.
The $37 raise in student health fees will ensure a larger facility that offers new services to students such as same-day appointments, expanded women’s health services, radiology services and an expanded pharmacy. The plan will allow for more students to be seen and for two or three new physicians to be hired.
I do not believe the tuition fees are a tremendous increase with all that they are going to accomplish. The student referendums are necessary for the steadily growing student population and are implemented to benefit campus-wide needs.