On the eve of one of the biggest student elections in 15 years, Jericah Selby seems calm. Selby, a senior and president of the Student Government Association at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, attended to last-minute details of a student referendum set for March 12 through March 15.

Next week students will vote on construction of a new recreation and wellness center built with increased student fees. In recent years, a comprehensive planning process has been in the works that includes student surveys.

“In November of 2010, I came across some old SGA files about a rec center,” Selby said. “The SGA conducted a survey of 600 students to see what kind of support there was out there and the results were positive. Throughout the Check the Rec campaign, we’ve stressed that it’s important to get as many students as possible out to vote. Right now I’m not thinking of the yes and no boxes.”

The center would have approximately 94,000 square feet that will include a three-court gymnasium, elevated track, weight and fitness space, a six-lane lap pool, rooms for yoga, spinning, classes, a lounge/game room, juice bar, locker rooms with sauna, offices and a wellness center. It would be built just south of the Millennium Student Center. The cost of the building is approximately $30 million.

Next week’s referendum asks student voters to approve a fee of $19.25 per credit hour up to 12 credit hours per fall and spring semester and six credit hours in the summer. The money will be used to fund the new center.

If approved by UMSL students, the proposal is then sent to the University of Missouri System for consideration by the Board of Curators in June. Assuming a design and construction schedule of 30 months, the projected opening would be the 2014-2015 academic year. The student fee would not go into effect until the building opened.

UMSL Chancellor Tom George praised the student-driven initiative and the long and deliberative process to bring it to a vote.

“Past, present and future students – those that have taken tours of UMSL – often comment on the need for more recreational opportunities for students who commute to or live on campus,” George said. “They point out the benefits derived from rec centers located on other campuses — such as providing students with more outlets for healthy activities, stress relief and interaction with follow classmates. So, from that standpoint, I want to commend our student leadership for bringing this important issue to the entire student body for consideration.”

Selby said student leaders were required to get more than 500 signatures on a petition in order to hold the referendum.

“We got more than 1,000 signatures, so I’m encouraged,” she said. “I may be feeling too optimistic at this point, but I think we can get 2,000 students to vote. It’s now all up to them to make the decision. The more students who participate, the clearer the message is to the UM System.”

Online voting will begin at 8 a.m. March 12 and will close at 11:59 p.m. March 15. Voting takes place at checktherec.umsl.edu and will be open to currently enrolled students. For more information, visit facebook.com/checktherec, call Selby at 314-516-5130 or email her at jjsz@mail.umsl.edu.

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Maureen Zegel

Maureen Zegel

Eye on UMSL: Sweet ride
Eye on UMSL: Sweet ride

Triton Leaders Allison Lendman, Ashley Schauwecker and Cole McWilliams take a seat in the newly wrapped, UMSL-branded red golf cart outside the Millennium Student Center.

Eye on UMSL: Sweet ride

Triton Leaders Allison Lendman, Ashley Schauwecker and Cole McWilliams take a seat in the newly wrapped, UMSL-branded red golf cart outside the Millennium Student Center.

Eye on UMSL: Sweet ride

Triton Leaders Allison Lendman, Ashley Schauwecker and Cole McWilliams take a seat in the newly wrapped, UMSL-branded red golf cart outside the Millennium Student Center.