UBPC list proposes 9 campus projects

Sheila Burt

More funds for larger Northwestern community events such as a block party and increased music and theatre classes for nonmajors topped the list of priorities in a budget proposal administrators will review in the coming months.

The Undergraduate Budget Priorities Committee, a group of students who annually submit a proposal to the administration outlining areas of funding thought to be important to students, presented the list to officials late last week after reviewing student suggestions in two online polls.

Administrators will review the list and allocate certain funds for the ideas. The decisions will be announced in April.

Eugene Sunshine, NU’s senior vice president for business and finance, said he thought the group presented “interesting” ideas with and without specific price tags.

Sunshine said the projects without specific price tags are not necessarily harder to approve but do require “a little more thought and discussion and more consideration.”

The proposal outlined nine main requests, including larger projects, such as Shanley Pavilion improvements, early dorm openings and a “master plan” for expanding campus recreation facilities. A proposal asking for a full day of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Day events was also noted.

“The committee went into (the meeting) knowing that we’re asking for money to start the initiative on bigger projects, and we really want the administration to see that,” said member Erik Neinstedt, a Communication junior.

Neinstedt, next year’s group chairman, added that the group must find a “middle ground” in budget requests because “the administration won’t fund anything that’s through the roof.”

He said he considers the request for more community funds for events feasible because many campus groups have planned events similar to the block party, campuswide picnic on the Lakefill and outdoor movie cited in the proposal.

The proposal for the block party suggests closing University Place to allow street vendors to set up stands and assembling a small stage for dance and improv groups.

Last year officials approved seven items proposed by the committee, including $6,000 for additional fitness equipment at Blomquist Recreation Center and space and staff enhancements for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Resource Center. The officials did not fund four requests, citing fiscal restraints.

The committee developed the final proposal list by reviewing student responses in two online polls — one in a blank box that allowed students to write in suggestions and the other that asked students to prioritize 15 recommendations.

Weinberg senior Brian Miller, the committee’s current chairman, said he thought the administrators reacted positively to the presentation and at least would consider each proposal.

“We just have to do the best with what we have and make convincing arguments,” Miller said. “We just hope for as many ideas as possible for the administration to approve.”

The group included suggestions from last year’s list that still were important to students. The need for more theater and music classes for nonmajors, for example, came in second on this year’s list even after receiving funds last year.

To add momentum to Shanley improvements request, UBPC included pictures of some of the dire conditions existing in the theatre and statistics about tight booking schedules there.

First-year committee member Kevin Rodrigues, a Weinberg sophomore, said the group allowed students with different majors and interests to develop “far-reaching proposals” that will affect the entire student body.