Muma, Hall address referendum concerns at SGA meeting


Easton Thompson

Provost Muma answers a question from a student body senator at the Student Government Association meeting on Wednesday, February 27.

Acting President Rick Muma and Vice President for Student Affairs Teri Hall addressed student senators’ questions and concerns about next week’s referendum at Wednesday’s Student Government Association meeting.

Of the questions and concerns senators conveyed, many focused on the construction of the new business building, and why it is a priority in the Shock the Future campaign.

“The business building has been discussed for many, many years,” Muma said. “Feedback has been sought from students, faculty, and staff in the business school.”

The construction of a new business building has been on the table for the past six years. Information that was collected from the exit survey that students intending to graduate are required to take showed support the new building on campus, Muma said.

The state of Kansas does not give funding for the construction of a new academic building. If the referendum fails, business students will vote on a program-specific $30-$35 per credit hour fee hike to pay for the new building, Woolsey Hall, which donors have already raised $30 million for.

The date of a potential second referendum has not been scheduled yet due to SGA elections that will be held in April, Hall said.

“We’re really hoping that we don’t have to do that,” Hall said.  

Senator James questioned what happens to the funds that were given by donors if the first and second referendum do not pass.

“If this first referendum does not pass and the second one for the business students does not pass, do the donors get their money back or is that ours to keep?” James asked.

Muma said Woolsey Hall must be built regardless.

“We have to figure out a way to build the business building — we prioritize this as an institution as that this is something that we need,” Muma said. “We’re not going to be promoting sending this back to donors. We’ll have to figure out a way to do that. If the business referendum does not pass, we’re going to have to think about the ways to do that.”

The proposed fee hike would allow Wichita State to bond $38.6 million. More than half of that money, $20 million, would go towards the business school.

If the first referendum fails, smaller renovation project that were planned for other buildings campus-wide will be put on hold. Some such projects include the renovation of the 24-hour study room in Ablah Library, biology lab renovations, an updated wind tunnel in the engineering building, and the renovation of Henrion hall.

Muma explained that the minimum $6 fee will raise about $1.8 million every year in order to pay the yearly payment to support the bond, which would take 30 years to pay off.

WSU receives about $4.5 million in repair and rehabilitation funds that are used campus-wide on any building that requires it. Some of that money will be used to cover the cost of Henrion Hall renovations.

Certain guidelines are given by the state for repair of the damage that has been done to buildings that pose a safety hazard. The university received $4.6 million dollars this fiscal year.

“A lot of it is damage that has been done, like to a roof from hail storms, because that is high-priority because it’s leaking,” Muma said. “Hubbard Hall is currently getting new windows because there has been cracks in those windows — they’re not airtight.

“A few years ago, it was the same case with Lindquist Hall. We’re able to use it for those kinds of things. We’re able to make the campus more accessible.”

James expressed his concern that some students are still not convinced on the referendum and how it will benefit them in the long run. Hall said senators should be proud of investing in the university.

“That’s a part of what leadership is, and if you care about this place — some of you are going to see a number of these improvements and some of you won’t,” Hall said.

“We want you to be proud of this. We want you to be proud of this place and be able to see that this stuff was started while we were there.”

The Shock the Future student steering committee has taken the lead on informing students about the referendum.

One senator asked how administrators can say the Shock the Future campaign was student-led when “nobody on the steering committee gave input.”

“Our involvement is advisory — not to guide or direct,” Muma said. “I don’t think everything was decided about how this was going to move forward.”

Referendum voting will be held next Monday through Wednesday.