UTSA student-led initiative nets landslide victory

(April 16, 2004)--By an overwhelming 63 percent majority, UTSA students voted this week to pass a student-driven campus life initiative that will fund improvements to campus recreation, student services and athletics through slight fee increases.

"With all the hard work and long hours, the students on the (campus life) committee put in, we're proud that we could make a change and impact the entire life of the campus for generations to come," said Monica Patterson, a junior and co-chair of the Campus Life Initiative Committee.

A student committee spent weeks developing the initiative, which student services, campus recreation and athletics will draw on to begin plans for implementation of programs and facilities. These three groups will also involve other interested campus groups and students in planning and oversight.

Student services provides students with the support they need to be successful academically, while enjoying a holistic college experience that includes involvement beyond the classroom.

This initiative calls for more staff in student service areas such as financial aid, career services, judicial affairs, student life, counseling and tutoring.  The initiative also calls for additional funding for student programming, student success programs and student organizations.

"We just saw such a need at UTSA for a campus life," said Teri Fry, a senior and co-chair of the initiative committee.  "The students are becoming more traditional students, and we felt there should be a more traditional campus life to match that change."

Campus recreation and athletics make up the other two components of the initiative.  With nearly 25,000 students at the university touted as the fastest growing among public universities in Texas, UTSA's new Recreation and Wellness Center is forced to turn away students at peak hours because of space confinements.  Beyond the lack of space indoors, campus recreation has only one intramural field for its widely popular outdoor programs.

The initiative will help fund an additional 130,000 square feet for the recreation center, adding more fitness, cardio and weight-training space. The center also hopes to add a natatorium, suspended indoor jogging track and smoothie vendor space.  Lighted intramural fields, and an outdoor pursuits program should make their appearances on campus as soon as the fall semester.

"The students have spoken," Fry said.  "I'm just so excited about everything this means for the university.  To see how much the university has grown just in my four years here, and to know how much this initiative will mean for future growth and change -- it's amazing."

For the UTSA athletics department, the initiative comes on the heels of a successful basketball season that saw the Roadrunners earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament, as well as yet another successful hosting of the Final Four.

With the passing of the initiative, the athletics department immediately will start planning for the addition of women's golf and women's soccer with an estimated inaugural 2005-06 season.  The initiative will help fund a track/soccer stadium, as well as baseball and softball stadiums on campus.  The department also hopes to begin renovations to the Convocation Center, where both basketball teams and the volleyball team compete.

"I'd just like to thank everybody for all the support they've given us, and we, as students of the campus life initiative, promise it will pay off in the long run," Patterson said.

--Leigh Anne Gullett

University Communications
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