Special Presentation Given To OUSC

By Mike Sandula

The Oakland University Student Congress Monday meeting in the Oakland Room began with a special presentation.

John Beaghan, vice president for finance and administration and treasurer to the board of trustees, presented a slideshow that outlined past and planned construction projects, including parking and the Human Health Building.

He was joined by Terry Stollsteimer, associate vice president for facilities; Sam Lucido, chief of police; and Greg Kampe, parking committee chair.

Human Health Building

Groundbreaking will begin April 12 for the Human Health Building, according to Beaghan.

The five-floor, 160,000 square foot building will cost $62 million. State appropriations will be covering $40 million. Beaghan said OU issued bonds for the remaining cost, which will be paid back with money from the general fund.

The building will be located on the corner of Squirrel Road and Walton Boulevard and is expected to open fall 2012.

Additionally, Beaghan said they’re expecting a $2.7 million grant from the Department of Energy for a geothermal energy system located in P1, which would need to be shut down over the summer for the duration of the project

Summer Construction

Beaghan started off his presentation with an overview of construction projects OU completed in summer 2009.

These projects included retiling the first and second floors of O’Dowd Hall, replacing Kresge Library’s roof, and a new backup power source for University Technology Services.

A high temperature hot water tunnel under Wilson Boulevard — about $5 million — is one of several projects planned for summer 2010.

In 2011 the university plans to fix the glass curtain wall of O’Dowd, which Beaghan said has had continual water and energy problems.

“We’re basically going to take that building apart and put a new exterior on it,” Beaghan said.

The project is expected to cost between $4-5 million.

Auburn Hills is planning construction on Squirrel Road this summer as well, and OU is working on having the activity affect the campus as little as possible.

Parking, Parking, Parking

Beaghan outlined 13 parking lot priorities that would add 468 spaces at an estimated cost of about $1.7 million.

Most spots would be created from existing lots through repaving, restriping and reconfiguring.

The biggest project would be adding a new lot to the east of P37, which would create 320 spaces.

Another big project is to relocate the sidewalk between Pryale Hall and P11, by the upper fields, and increase visibility of oncoming traffic for pedestrians.

This wouldn’t create any new spaces, but Beaghan said it would make P11 safer to get to and from and therefore more appealing to park in.

“It’s a bit of a misnomer that there’s no parking available,” Beaghan said.

For the first two weeks of every fall semester, OU’s police department conducts a survey that counts the occupancy of campus parking lots at various times throughout the day.

Data from Sept. 23-24, 2009, show that P11 and the parking structure were never full between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

“An objective observer of those results would say, ‘You don’t have a parking problem,'” Beaghan said.

He said over the last decade OU has added 1,831 parking spaces — a 28 percent increase — while student enrollment increased 24 percent.

Though Beaghan said part of the medical school complex plan is to eventually have a parking structure attached to additional buildings, the current list of parking lot priorities doesn’t have a parking garage.

“We’ve shied away from doing a parking structure because of the cost,” Beaghan said.

He said a parking garage would cost about $12 million and paying it off would likely mean a tuition increase of about 1 percent, which would be widely unpopular.

Some OUSC members brought up the possibility of parking fees, but Kampe said he’s surveyed OU students before and an overwhelming majority of them are against paying for parking.

Furthermore, Beaghan said parking fees would be expensive to install as it would require, among other things, passes, gates, and a way to enforce them.

Touching on the OUSC proposal created by student services committee chair Jarret Sclaff and legislator Brett McIsaac to have the Bear Bus operate during weekdays, Beaghan expressed doubts that it would be worth the cost.

He said he’s worked on other campuses that offered such a service and it was barely used.

“People would rather hunt … and slip into a space than drive five more minutes, get on a bus, then ride it,” Beaghan said, though he did add that maybe it could be different at OU.

Kampe said that additional parking is too expensive to address proactively “until it becomes such an issue that no one can park.”

“It’s going to have to be something that (students) have to push, push, push … if (they) think that’s the important issue,” Kampe said.

Traffic flow was also discussed. Lucido said an entirely new communications system may be needed, in response to a suggestion for police to block off full parking lots. Beaghan also said that there may be the addition of two-lane exits as well as acceleration and deceleration lanes on Squirrel Road.

New Legislator

Following the presentation from Beaghan and a question and answer session, the congress carried on with its usual proceedings, including the approval of a new legislator: Chuck Kelly.

Waquad questioned his motives for becoming a legislator during the requisite questioning, as Kelly is currently spearheading a new social networking project called Buhz Hyve.

She said she was concerned that he would use OUSC as a vehicle for promoting his personal project.

Kelly denied the claim and was approved unanimously by members of congress.

Library Extension Hours

Schlaff and OUSC legislator Anthony Ivone were working on extending Kresge Library’s hours during the week prior to exam week.

Dean Julie Voelck recently approved this initiative.

Kresge will now be open until 2 a.m. Sunday through Wednesday, the week before finals.

Previously, the library had only one “study day” prior to exam week during which they were open that late.

Schlaff said he’d now like to look into having the lower level of the Oakland Center open 24/7.

He is primarily looking into keeping the Student Technology Center and Bumper’s Game Room open.

Election Changes

At OUSC’s Jan. 11 meeting, Mark Medaugh, student activities funding board chair, said their elections process was “broken and needed to be fixed.”

On Jan. 25, student congress passed amendments to the process.

Candidates used to have to file a declaration of candidacy form with the elections committee no later than eight weeks prior to the start of elections.

The elections committee chair will now determine the deadline, which Medaugh said was always extended anyway.

The voluntary code of ethics was removed because it wasn’t possible to enforce.

The way the student body is able to ask questions at the debates have changed too.

Previously, if students had a question they wanted asked at a debate, they had to submit it no later than one week beforehand.

They may now pose questions at the debates, but they must be submitted in writing to the moderator, who has sole discretion over whether they’ll be asked.

And what used to be the campaign kick-off event was changed to the elections kick-off event.

Campaigning may now start at the beginning of the fall academic term; there is no more “unofficial” campaigning because it was too difficult to define.

“It takes a lot of complexities out where they didn’t need to be,” Medaugh said.

Election packets come out Friday. The elections begin at the end of March.

Despite this, student congress executive ticket candidates have already begun making their campaign bids, mostly via Facebook.

OUSC legislator Cameron Schea and Mike Diedrich, chair of the judiciary committee as well as a legislator, are running as president and vice president and have garnered support from 499 Facebook friends.

OUSC financial affairs director Brandon Gustafson is running with legislative affairs director Amy Ring after a short run with his original running mate, Andrew Gustafsson. Their Facebook group currently has 449 supporters.

Student body vice president Saman Waquad is also entertaining the idea of running for president.

— Campus editor Kay Nguyen contributed to this report