Questions arise regarding new fee, new facility at ASU

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Plans had been to grace the North end of Liberty Bank Stadium with a privately-funded, $22 million, 76,000 square foot indoor practice facility for the football team.

Recently, the idea was expanded into a Student Activities Center that will benefit more than just the football team. Students will, however, be expected to foot part of that bill through a fee that was established earlier this year.

"It's a little different scope than what it originally was," Vice President of the ASU System, Jeff Hankins told Region 8 News regarding the Student Activities Center.

Hankins said after visiting a few other universities across the nation, they realized 'what originally was' could be more than that.

"Thus, we ended up with the student activities center," he said. This facility, to be located in the same general area as the indoor practice facility, will be 2,000 square feet larger and available to more than just student athletes on campus.

The building will be 78,000 square feet and house a 100 yard indoor field.

"Also, it'll be used by the band, intramurals, which many students participate in, cheerleaders...any number of student groups will have access to this facility," Hankins said.

Though ASU anticipates the football operations center of the facility to be privately funded, students will fund the student activities center through a "facilities fee".

The ASU Board of Trustees approved tacking on the $3 per credit hour fee to student's account balances in May. It first appeared on account balances in the fall.

"We're funding this in a manner that many universities do," Hankins explained. "A designated facilities fee that is specific to facilities."

It's a move the Student Government Association backed, saying it will benefit many on campus and in turn, better the university.

"The better the university, the better it looks for people coming in. The more people we get, the better our university will be and it'll build a better future for our students," Student Government Association member, Tyler Fincher told Region 8 News.

Some students, however, feel it is unnecessary.

"We already have a Red W.O.L.F. Center for that. We have courts, we have indoor hockey courts, we have all the gym equipment you would ever need," Freshman Rheagan Wright said. "We have that. We don't need a student activities center."

Wright feels, though it's being advertised that way, it won't actually benefit all students.

"Just kind of like the athletic fees...not every student goes to games, not every student uses the Red W.O.L.F. Center but they still pay those fees," Wright explained.

Hankins said in looking at it from that perspective, many facilities on campus could fall into that category.

"This is a very diverse campus serving a number of students," Hankins said.

"If they take advantage of it, it'll be available for them," Fincher said. "As is the library, the Red W.O.L.F. Center. If they want to take advantage of these things, they can."

The facilities fee will also help finish the Humanities and Social Sciences Building on campus. The ASU Board of Trustees approved a $27.7 million bond, funded through that facilities fee, in which $15.7 million would to go to the liberal arts building and the additional $12 million would go to the student activities center.

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