Building projects on campus are not a new concept. In the early 90’s, BU students were faced with a similar proposal for the recreation center as current students were this year with the new student union building. Despite over two decades between the proposals, student participation and marketing were very similar.
The referendum for the proposed new Student Union building in 2024 took place a few weeks ago and students were posed two questions: Shall Bloomsburg University continue to pursue the creation of a new student union, anticipated completion during the 2024-2025 academic year, to meet the functions and services identified through a series of surveys and plans? Shall the University reinstate the Student Union Building Fee at a rate of $40 per semester effective the 2017-2018 academic year, then increase the Student Union Building Fee to $80 per semester effective the 2020-2021 academic year? When the results came in they showed students wanted a new student union but declined the proposed building fee.
On Monday, March 11, and Tuesday, March 12 1991, voting for the Recreation Center that the university has today was in place where several voting polls were stationed around campus so students can voice their opinion on the proposal. The proposal gave an estimation of $60 that students would have to pay each semester for construction and operation. Overall, only 678 students voted with a turnout of 378 to 301, only about 10 percent of the student body voted.
Both proposals were marketed similarly but had their differences due to the time gap. Voting in 1991 took place in certain locations around campus while students this year had the choice to vote online or at the tables around campus. Also, information about the new Student Union Building is now easily available around campus and on the university’s website.
More students voted in 2017 than in 1991. A total of 1,167 students participated in the referendum in 2017 which is more than 10 percent of the total students enrolled. 63.67 percent voted yes for the first question of a new Student Union Building while only 43.10 percent voted yes for the second question of restoring the building fee. The student fee is where students may have felt unsure about the new development where they would have to pay at a rate of $40 per semester next year.
Many students were not in favor for the Recreation Center to be built because they were concerned in having a library and laboratories rather than a gym which caused a debate of education priorities of the institution. Some students were not in favor in paying for something that they were not going to be able to use in the future, a feeling that some students had towards with the new student building also. Since only 10 percent of students voted and the Recreation Center proposal passed, students had to start paying out of their tuition for the new project which opened in 1995.
Now since the fee did not approve for this year’s proposal, the university cannot make any improvements or developments to the current building, “nor have funding available to plan for a potential new student union building,” according to the university website.