The Daily Californian Online

Revamping of Lower Sproul Inches Closer With Survey

By Anna Widdowson
Contributing Writer
Monday, April 13, 2009
Category: News > University > Student Life

The plans for Lower Sproul remain hazy, but a recent survey may bring the process one step closer to fruition.

A recent survey conducted by the ASUC and the Graduate Assembly could bring the campus a step closer to solidifying a plan for the redevelopment of Lower Sproul Plaza, a project that has been in the works for 10 years.

The survey, made available to students on March 6th and closed April 3rd, was designed to gather input from the campus on how students envision the proposed Lower Sproul Redevelopment Plan, according to campus officials.

Discussions of revamping Lower Sproul date back to 1999, when students protested for the creation of a permanent multicultural center in Eshleman Hall. Though the space has yet to be redeveloped, project goals have expanded to include bringing new restaurants and businesses to the area, as well as a more extensive student center, said Graduate Assembly President Miguel Daal.

According to the current survey, two-thirds of the 7,889 students who responded said they considered the redevelopment proposal either "somewhat" or "very" important.

"I was really encouraged to see so many students giving input on the redevelopment," said ASUC President Roxanne Winston, who sent out the survey. "It demonstrates that there is a genuine interest from students that we can utilize and add to our brainstorming."

A similar survey regarding the redevelopment of Lower Sproul was conducted in 2007, Daal said.

"What we have learned from our survey is that a lot of students pass through Lower Sproul but not so many engage in it," he said. "I want it to be a vibrant student space, and I want it to live up to the goal that we have of making a 24 hour student center."

Daal said he expects the project to cost upwards of $100 million. So far, the campus has allocated $750,000 toward planning.

Additional funding for the project will come from private donors, the campus and a potential student fee increase, Daal said. According to the survey, 62.4% said they would support raising the current $6 student fee to create a more useful student center.

"I want to get (students) the fairest deal possible with respect to their cost share," Daal said.

He added that he expects the project to break ground in 2012, pending the approval of a referendum which would be on the ballot in spring 2010.

"I hope it happens soon because in my view the financial situation only gets worse," Daal said. "Later on, I think it will become more difficult for students to find the extra money."

The specific contents of the new Lower Sproul remain to be determined, said Jordan Smith, chair of the ASUC Store Operations Board, but project architects will be hosting two sessions for students to voice opinions about what the plan should prioritize.

"It's a tough thing to ask students for fees at this time," Smith said. "That being said, I would pay for it, and I would be hopeful that it would pass, because I think in general there is a lot of opportunity in that area."

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