CARSON — Long-dormant plans to construct a student union at California State University, Dominguez Hills, have been revived by pending legislation that would allow the university to double student fees paid into a building trust fund--if the students agree to the higher rate.
University officials, backed by student government leaders, asked the Legislature to authorize the fee increase after concluding that the current $20-a-year rate collected under the state's buy-it-yourself plan for student unions would never produce enough revenue to get the project off the ground.
The legislation introduced by Sen. Ralph Dills (D-Gardena) sailed through the Assembly Education Committee without a dissenting vote this week and appeared headed for final passage in this session.
If that happens on schedule, a student referendum on the higher fees could be held in January and construction of a $5.7-million student union on the main campus mall could begin in the fall of 1988, according to David Carber, vice president for operations at Dominguez Hills.
"We've made several attempts since 1975 to get a student union built, but we didn't have the financial package to do it," he said. "Now with lower interest rates, more student involvement and the higher fee, we think we will be able to put together the right elements."
Doubling the student fee, he said, will bring in about $330,000 annually and help qualify the project for a bond issue of the size needed to get it moving. About $1.7 million collected from student fees over the past decade is gathering interest in a trust fund, Carber said.
The fund would have grown faster, Carber said, but about a third of the annual income has been used to operate a temporary student center in the campus cafeteria building.
Students have complained that the crowded cafeteria is not suitable for study and relaxation, and the building is closed during morning and evening hours when students want to schedule meetings and other activities.
Two-Thirds Approval Needed
To make sure the student union project has strong campus support, the administration will require that at least two-thirds of the students voting in the referendum indicate their willingness to pay the higher fee, Carber said. He said a "substantial turnout" of the 7,500 students also will be expected.
Student government leaders said campus support hinges on the administration keeping its pledge to allow full student participation in carrying out the project.
"There's no doubt that we need a student union," said Daryl Evans, president of Associated Students, "but we'd like a say in the design and what goes into the building."
He said student unions promote campus camaraderie and provide a base for a wide range of student and community activities.
Dale Hanner, a Cal State vice chancellor in Long Beach, said student-financed unions have been built at all of the universities in the 19-campus system except Dominguez Hills and Riverside.