UBPC analyzes funding requests

Sheila Burt

After reviewing preliminary student suggestions, members of the Undergraduate Budget Priorities Committee said many students want more funds for recreational-center renovations and improved theater and fine-arts space.

The committee, which annually submits a proposal to the administration outlining areas of funding important to students, will meet with officials later this month to present their requests.

“The key to our process is good research behind the ideas,” said Brian Miller, chairman of the committee and a Weinberg senior. “We have a very important two weeks coming up.”

One of the administrators who will review the proposal, Senior Vice President for Business and Finance Eugene Sunshine, said Northwestern does not give the committee a monetary limit on projects, but provides “some feedback and quick, general reaction” to any of the preliminary ideas.

“For us it’s a very important learning experience,” Sunshine said. “This is a very focused opportunity for us to … hear exactly what’s on students’ minds.”

Officials will announce which requests they approved in the spring. Sunshine estimated that almost 50 percent of the students’ requests generally are funded.

This year the committee used a new strategy to gather suggestions — posting a blank poll on the student Web portal HereAndNow last week so students could respond with their own suggestions. The group also talked to students and student groups for ideas — a method that had been the only means of feedback in past years.

“The main idea is that we want to get the whole campus involved,” Miller said. “This is a great opportunity, and we want to take advantage of it. It should be a campuswide initiative.”

Miller said the group received about 25 serious suggestions. Ideas included renovations to the Sports Pavilion and Aquatics Center, Blomquist Recreation Center and the Music Administration Building. More music, dance and art classes for nonmajors, increased NUTV channels and a WildCARD swiper for after-hours building access also were mentioned.

The group will spend this week narrowing and prioritizing its list with administrators’ input about which ideas are realistic. A new list for students to prioritize will be placed on HereAndNow early next week, Miller said.

The final list could include between 10 and 20 items. The group also will consider ideas that might not benefit the entire NU community directly but are important to a small population.

First-year committee member Jonathan Marino said he wants to build community on campus by pushing for projects that bring students together.

“We want to be both realistic and idealistic at the same time,” said Marino, a Communication sophomore and a fraternity senator for Associated Student Government. “We want to keep in mind what the high-level administrators will take seriously, but at the same time, we want to get the most for students.”

Last year officials approved seven items proposed by the committee, including $6,000 for additional fitness equipment at Blomquist and significant space and staff enhancements for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Resource Center.

Citing fiscal restraints, officials did not fund four requests — including resources for an environmental studies major.

Miller said seeing the proposals that were approved last year become realities on campus this year has been a rewarding experience.

“You get to actually see, rather than read,” Miller said, “that the administration is really looking into improving student life on campus.”