UW-L students to vote on $29 million construction project

If a new field house is approved tution could go up by $132

The future of a proposed field house on the University of Wisconsin La Crosse campus is in the hands of students. They are being asked to vote on referendum that could green-light a $29 million construction project.

If students vote yes on Oct.14 their campus would get new exercise and track facilities, among other things, but they would also see an increase in tuition fees. While UW-La Crosse officials said a new field house would update the university some students are concerned about costs.
If students pass the referendum, they would approve a new soccer field, field house and renovations to Mitchell Hall. Chancellor Joe Gow said the changes would benefit a wide variety of students.

“We will use it in the morning for exercise and sports science classes, and in the afternoon for the athletic practices and also some ESS, and then at night it’s all recreational facilities,” Gow said.

The project would cost nearly $30 million, with $9 million to be provided by the university. The rest would come out the pockets of students who would see tuition raised from $66 to $132. Senior Rob Waara thinks that’s too much for him.

“As a student who currently is working three jobs and who has to take out student loans, I definitely can feel the impact of these high tuition costs,” Waara said. “I also have had a number of friends that have had to drop or have had to change colleges to go to a school that’s cheaper.”

UW-L officials are sympathetic about ever-increasing tuition, but said the updates will contribute to UW-L’s standing as a top university.

“When you graduate from UW-L, in 10, 15, 20 years down the line you want people to say that’s a great school not that it used to be good but that they kind of let it fall apart,” Gow said.

Gow stresses he wants whatever is decided to be a clear reflection of what students want.

“We have a great tradition here at UW-L of asking students when there are times that fees are going to go up, or tuition,” Gow said.

Waara is concerned some voices won’t be heard.

“Because of how few students there are of lower class and students of color; in a majority vote, like a referendum vote their voice will be outnumbered,” Waara said.

If the referendum is passed, it would still be some time before ground is broken. Construction would likely begin in 2017 with most of the projects completed in 2019.