Behind the poll: New Student Center Initiative

    At the beginning of the week, we asked for your input on ASG’s push for a new student center — a movement that’s been reported, supported and thwarted throughout the month.

    An army of 300 responded in what — we must admit — is a deeply unscientific sampling. But the results are intriguing.

    Now, the waste-of-money camp seems to command a dominant plurality of the vote, at 42 percent. But, just for fun, let’s spin these numbers in another direction for a moment. Taken together, 46 percent of respondents back either a new $95 million center or renovations to Norris that leave the Garrett parking lot untouched.

    ASG actually floats both options in a new student center proposal draft from February. According to a 2005 Brailsford & Dunlavey study, the university could renovate Norris to the tune of $45 million — with the option to renovate and add space to Norris for a total of $75 million.

    It would be presumptuous to say that a plurality of respondents supports ASG on some form of new student center. But if Morty Schapiro’s doubts force ASG back to the drawing board, our student government might find the student support it needs with a compromise proposal focusing on Norris.

    And the Jacobs Center deserves mention, too. If the Kellogg School of Management decides to relocate part of its operations to a new building, the center could be ripe for an undergraduate takeover. The B&D study says Jacobs renovations could cost $65 million.

    ASG calls turning Jacobs into Norris 2.0 nearly as beneficial as building a brand new student center. And Schapiro, in a September interview, seemed more amenable to that solution than to tearing up the Garrett lot.

    In retrospect, the poll should have incorporated Jacobs into its answer options.

    This week’s poll opens Monday at 6 a.m. and closes Saturday at 10 p.m.


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