TWU students to vote on raising union fee

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Al Key/DRC
Texas Woman’s University students Alexis Watkins, left, and Charque Chenard look at information and photographs about the proposal for a new student union in the current Union Building on campus Friday.

Texas Woman’s University students will vote on whether or not to increase the union fee Tuesday and Wednesday.

The existing fee is $32 per student per semester. It would increase to $149 per student per semester.

The university is planning to build a new student union because the current one, which was built in 1970 when enrollment was 5,800 and renovated in 1990, is outdated and too small. Unofficial enrollment numbers are up 2.7 percent from the same time last year, with 12,416 students on the Denton campus.

“The problem with the current building is it’s just not adequate for our size,” said Richard Nicholas, vice president for student life at TWU.

The union doesn’t have modern amenities and needs to be updated, which is expensive, he said.

If the students don’t vote to increase the fee, the current union will have to be updated, he said. If students do vote to increase the fee, the university will move forward into the design phase, Nicholas said.

“Unions can be small or gigantic, depending on resources to build them and what students want,” Nicholas said.

Students are asking for more lounge space, study rooms, meeting rooms, a multipurpose facility and a bigger dining facility.

Students have been involved in the entire process.

Joleesia Berry, president of the Student Government Association, said she thinks students support the fee because they understand the need for the new union.

The earliest the fee would go into effect is the spring semester of 2014, according to the blog for the new university union.

Berry, who is on the committee for the new union, said the lunch lines are long and agrees the facility is outdated and too small.

“We just need more space more than anything for our students,” she said.

Students want more options for food, a larger place to invite speakers and more technology, she said.

“It’s just time for a new union,” Berry said. “The students want a place that’s more interactive.”

TWU has contracted a company to look at possible locations, Nicholas said.

If the measure passes, TWU will take it to the board of regents in November or February.

A new building, even without state money, takes a series of steps, he said.

The fee will go to the Legislature and permission to build will go to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

“The permission stage takes quite a while,” Nicholas said. And then construction would take 18 months to two years to complete, he said.

TWU should have results from the vote by Thursday.

For more information, visit http://twustudentunion.blogspot.com/.

RACHEL MEHLHAFF can be reached at 940-566-6889. Her e-mail address is rmehlhaff@dentonrc.com.


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