The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Davies Center needs renovation

Kathlyn Hotynski

There has been a lot of debate over the future of the Davies Center on our campus. Some claim that the center is good enough for now and that we do not need to redevelop it.

Others, including myself, believe that the Davies Center is a sub-standard building that needs to be redeveloped. It is for this reason I have co-led the Davies Exploratory Committee for the past year and participated in the group that asked the Regents to approve a new project.

So why do I believe that we need to redevelop the Davies Center? I believe that the building is dysfunctional, fails to meet student needs and is inaccessible to handicapped students. I also believe that there is a record of student support for the issue.

The first reason students should support the redevelopment of Davies is that our current building is in a state of disrepair. There are issues with water damage, wiring and our central air system. Systems inside of the building are wearing out.

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While some may claim that the building looks “like new,” the truth is that the building is quickly becoming a sinkhole for our money, and a new coat of paint will not fix these issues.

The second reason that students should support the redevelopment project is that the building does not meet our needs. Our campus is burgeoning with student organizations. We have more than 200, ranging from the High and Mighty Jugglers to the Portuguese Club to the Lighthouse Society. We only have 14 rooms for those groups to meet in and less than 50 cubes for them to store their materials in.

It is nearly impossible for new organizations to find meeting space inside of the Davies Center. Needless to say, our current student union does not meet the needs of our campus organizations.

Our current student union also fails to meet the needs of students. We effectively have a high school cafeteria that we eat meals in. If we want to hang out with friends or find a quiet place to rest, we have to go to other buildings or off campus to do this. Our student union does not provide us with an impromptu meeting place or a place to relax; it only provides us lunch. We can do better than that.

Our current student union also fails to meet our needs in new student recruitment. Prospective students who are considering UW-Eau Claire are less than impressed with our student union. I have heard them refer to it as a “cave” because of the poor lighting and low ceilings in some parts of the building.

Think about the first time you stepped into Davies. Did it make you want to come to Eau Claire? Were you less than impressed with the building? Davies does not reflect the excellence of our university to prospective students. It does not meet the needs of students or our campus organizations.

The third reason that students should support the redevelopment program is our building is not handicap accessible.

The elevators that we have in the building are not accessible. There are flaws in the locations of doors and emergency exits that would make it impossible for individuals in wheelchairs to escape if a disaster were to occur. Our campus is already difficult for students with disabilities to maneuver, and our student center is one of the prime examples of why they have a more difficult time than the rest of us coming to Eau Claire.

A fourth reason for supporting the project is a history of student support. Most students usually scoff when they are told this because of the failed 2003 referendum. However, using only the 2003 referendum does not tell the whole story.

In 2000, the students of Eau Claire passed a referendum to support an $8.5 million renovation of the Davies Center. In 2005, 64 percent of student respondents of the online survey spoke in favor of a new union. It is also important to note that nearly an identical number of students responded to the survey as voted in the 2003 election. Also, the highest levels of support were among freshmen and sophomores.

So what changed in between 2003 and 2005? My predecessors, Meredith Marx and De Anna Breault, ran an extensive educational campaign between the referendum and the online survey.

They highlighted the needs in our building, using videos, Web sites and flyers to inform students. When students were educated about the needs of our building, they responded by voting in favor of the project in our online survey. When students are informed of the need, they have historically supported the redevelopment of the Davies Center.

Our current student center is the result of students who have come before us. They paid for improvements that they never ended up seeing. We now have an opportunity to join them in improving our campus. Because the Davies Center is dysfunctional, does not meet student needs, and is handicap inaccessible, we need to redevelop the site.

Nielson is co-chair of the Davies Exploratory Committee, vice president of Student Senate, and a columnist for The Spectator.

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Davies Center needs renovation