UBPC wish-list no surprise

Alice Truong

It’ll be a familiar song and dance for administrators Friday when the Undergraduate Budget Priorities Committee presents its four recommendations: wireless Internet on campus, extended library hours, a Saturday downtown Chicago shuttle and renovations to Norris University Center’s ground floor.

The committee will showcase its old favorites by comparing its services to those offered by comparable institutions, such as Stanford and Duke universities.

“I would at least like to see commitment on the part of the administration to look into the issues and keep that on the radar,” said UBPC chairwoman Jessica Wash, a Weinberg senior.

The four recommendations emerged after the committee posted a poll on NU Link in December. Students then rated the four recommendations in a more recent poll posted in early February. The poll garnered more than 800 responses, which committee members will use to rank the recommendations. Results will not be released until Friday.

When the committee presents its recommendations Friday, it will discuss the proposals by comparing Northwestern to its peer universities. They compared three services: wireless Internet in dorms, student center facilities and the availability of 24-hour study spaces.

Of the 19 Consortium on Financing Higher Education’s member institutions comparable to NU’s size and status, such as Yale University, 11 have full wireless coverage in their dormitories.

NU is like the other eight institutions without wireless Internet in its residences, said Anna Xu, academic vice president of the Associated Student Government.

The McCormick senior, who heads the academic committee, has been collaborating with UBPC to provide research about NU’s peer institutions.

The academic committee will present a bill to the ASG Senate on Wednesday asking the university to commit to establishing a deadline for dorm-wide wireless.

The service has been on the UBPC’s list since 2001, Wash said. In 2002, the first Virtual Private Network was set up.

Last year, students rated having on-campus wireless Internet service as their top-most priority. But wireless Internet took a backseat to better cell phone coverage, in the wake of the Virginia Tech shooting in April.

Renovations to the ground floor of Norris have been suggested since 1984.

“It’s definitely an eyesore,” committee member Aneesa Arshad said. “It’s stuck in the 1970s.”

The SESP senior said Duke and Princeton universities recently renovated their student unions. The University of Wisconsin is currently investing about $200 million to build a south-campus student union.

The proposed Norris renovation would be a complete overhaul with new lighting, furniture and kitchen area. The costs are estimated between $6 million and $8 million, depending on the contractor.

Arshad said 18 out of 20 peer institutions have 24-hour study areas. On Friday, the committee will propose having the main floor of the Mudd Science and Engineering Library open 24 hours a day.

Arshad said extending the hours for the library, located in the Technological Institute, an extra hour would cost $7,000 per year, but the figures for keeping a 24-hour space might cost more because of the need for security guards.

“We’re comparing ourselves with peer institutions,” Wash said, “but it’s also a part of providing what a good institution should.”

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