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Sunday, December 21, 2014

ASUNM moves Wellness Center proposals ahead

news@dailylobo.com

Members of the Associated Students of the University of New Mexico Senate saw further review of three proposals for the proposed creation of the new Wellness Center.

Associate President of Student Services Tim Gutierrez, who attended the meeting Wednesday night as a guest speaker, said ASUNM will be integral in determining which proposal to go with in the future.

“They will play a major role from the standpoint of expressing the desires of the students wanting to have a destination institution with a first-rate facility that they can access at any time,” Gutierrez said.

First proposed about eight years ago, the Wellness Center would be located on UNM’s Lot A, adjacent to Central Avenue, according to a report by the Daily Lobo.

According to an information packet distributed by Gutierrez at the meeting, the first proposal aims to establish a 170,856 square-foot stand-alone Wellness Center, which would incorporate Recreational Services, Student Health and Counseling and Employee Health Promotion. It would also include a multipurpose activity courts gym, a leisure pool, an indoor running track, offices and classrooms. This proposal is estimated at $69 million, and is projected to add $268 in student fees annually.

The second proposal would be an additional 100,000 square-foot recreational facility that would sit directly east of Johnson Center and would include a MAC Gym, a climbing wall, an indoor running track, multi-purpose rooms, a juice bar and offices, according to the packet. This facility is estimated to cost $36 million and is projected to add $138 annually in student fees.

The third proposal would include a 100,000 square-foot recreational center plus a phased renewal of Johnson Center, according to the packet. The renewal would include conversion of the Johnson pool to a leisure pool, an upgrade to the Olympic pool, upgrading infrastructure and addressing building code issues. Costing the most among the three proposals, the projected cost is estimated at around $86 million and is projected to add $298 annually in student fees.

Gutierrez said he would like to have a selection made on the proposal as soon as possible in order to give students something concrete when discussing the project with the administration.

“We would like to have a decision as soon as possible,” Gutierrez said. “We want to give our students something to hold onto, something to push for and something to champion to the administration, because part of this is going to come down to a discussion with the administration on what is going to be there to serve our students the best in the future.”

ASUNM Sen. Ayham Maadi said he believes the first proposal would potentially kill two birds with one stone by putting further pressure on the University to address the issue of parking on campus.

“Parking is in need of complete overhaul as well,” Maadi said. “So I am thinking option one would also put pressure on decision makers when it comes to parking… We would have a brand new Wellness Center with SHAC included, while also putting direct pressure on decision makers when it comes to parking.”

Number of senators stay the same

The night also saw Bill 7s, which would have increased the number of senators in ASUNM from 20 to 25, fail to pass by one vote.

One of the driving forces behind the bill was some senators’ belief that 20 is an under-representation of UNM’s growing student population.

“I don’t feel like 20 is enough to represent the amount of students we have at UNM,” said ASUNM Sen. Liliana Benitez de Luna. “I feel like on my end, I am not getting out there and talking with enough students, and I definitely feel like five more senators would help us all with that.”

Electronic textbooks

UNM Provost Chauoki Abdallah also stopped by at the meeting to encourage senators to begin gathering student opinion regarding students’ heavier reliance on electronic textbooks.

Provost Abdallah said the average student spends around $1200 a year on textbooks. He said he hopes that a move toward e-books will save students money in the future.