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Student Initiative to Redevelop
Davies Center Goes to Board of Regents

RELEASED: Dec. 5, 2006

Davies University CenterEAU CLAIRE — A student-initiated proposal to redevelop Davies University Center at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will go before the UW System Board of Regents this week.

If approved, the up to $48.6 million project will be funded through student segregated fees. Under the proposal, the segregated fee increases would begin to be phased in for the 2007 fall term and reach a maximum of $125 per semester by 2010. Current segregated fees are about $600 per academic year. No tax dollars would be involved in the development or operation of the building.

The Davies Center proposal was forwarded to the Board of Regents after the Davies Exploratory Committee secured support from the Student Senate, the Davies Center Advisory Board, the United Hall Council and Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich.

A large majority of students at UW-Eau Claire who participated in a survey regarding the future of Davies Center supported redeveloping the student center, according to survey results.

The survey, conducted in December 2005 by the Davies Exploratory Committee and Brailsford & Dunlavey, a facility planning firm based in Washington, D.C., found that 64 percent of the 1,640 students who completed the survey supported a project to redevelop Davies Center, with funds coming from increased segregated fees paid by students. Respondents represent about 15.6 percent of UW-Eau Claire's 10,500 student population, a response rate that is significantly greater than is typical of student voting habits on campus, organizers said.

Freshmen indicated the strongest support for the project, but more than 60 percent of respondents in all classifications other than graduate students supported it, the survey found. Students who supported the project lived on and off campus in about equal numbers.

Reasons students gave in the survey to support the project included that a renovated student center would greatly enhance the campus; the current center does not offer the type and quality spaces students need; and the project is important to overall campus life.

The Davies Exploratory Committee was created after a student referendum in 2000 found that a majority of students supported updating and expanding Davies Center. The 2000 referendum resulted in increased student fees, which will be applied to the cost of the project. But project leaders soon found that Davies Center was in such poor condition that the original approved budget amount of $8.5 million would not be enough to expand the building and do the extensive renovations that were needed.

In addition to narrow corridors and low ceilings, crowded eating areas and a lack of sufficient meeting rooms and work spaces for student organizations, the building also has significant structural and maintenance issues. Problems include leaking roofs, foundation cracks, asbestos in floors and insulation, non-energy efficient windows, no fire-protection sprinklers and electrical problems. And the building does not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

A 2003 referendum that called for additional increases in student segregated fees to support construction of a new building to replace the current center failed. A survey conducted in the spring of 2005 found that about 75 percent of the 2,666 student respondents believed Davies Center was in need of renovation and expansion. The results of that survey led to further definition of a potential redevelopment project that was proposed to students in the December 2005 survey.

The student center opened in 1959. A 1964 addition doubled its size, with additional expansion and updates made to the building in 1976, 1982 and 1991.

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JB

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