Regents Approve Fee Hike to Build Recreation Center

Regents Approve Fee Hike to Build Recreation Center

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Utah's state Board of Regents on Friday unanimously approved a hike in student fees to cover the cost of a new $38 million recreation center for the University of Utah.

The fees could increase by up to $120.

The new 157,000-square-foot center will be built from a combination of private funds and student fees, university President Michael Young said, although he has not said how much private money will be raised.

Young says the new center will be a new "hub" for the school. Research out of Arizona and Washington state shows a correlation between student retention and recreation center use, he said.

"Recreation centers are ranked fifth out of 21 most significant factors in determining college satisfaction," he added. "That's a high impact for a marginal amount of money."

Despite the unanimous vote, a few regents voiced concern over the rise in students fees.

"I am concerned we are constantly raising fees and putting a lot of pressure on students who are trying to get an education," said Nolan Karras, regent chairman.

Construction of the new center must be approved by the Utah State Legislature. The facility will include a fitness area, a climbing wall, swimming pools, sport courts, weight room, running track and an exercise room.

The project has been in the planning stages for more than three years. An independent survey of students showed more than 67 percent of students supported a fee increase of up to $60 to support center construction and upkeep.

Young estimates between 65 to 75 percent of students will use the facility.

University student body president Ali Hasnain said two initiatives passed through the school's legislative process to confirm student support of the project -- even though many students voting for the project now, won't be around by the time construction is complete in about three years.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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