Wellness Center plans continue, funding set

Faith Moldan

Faith Moldan

The SDSU Wellness Center was originally supposed to be twice its current size when it was originally built. Even though it ended up being smaller than planned, the university planners and builders left room to add on in the future. That time is now.

University Vice President Michael Reger said that there is currently $5 million available to add on to the Wellness Center. The money has come from private gifts, the city and student fees during the past ten years. Student fees keep generating more money each year to help pay for the addition.

Included in the plans for the Wellness Center was a new women’s locker room to meet Title IX requirements. Funding for the locker room was separate from the money for the building.

“This would save money on construction,” Reger said. “We’d get the locker room and more square footage.”

The locker room portion of the plan did not pass during this year’s legislative session in Pierre. Included in the same house bill were other state schools’ requests, like USD’s request for a new floor in the Dakota Dome. Board of Regents (BOR) Executive Director Robert T. Tad Perry planned to bring SDSU’s Wellness Center plans out of the bill and request a separate vote. Perry helps draft bills and testifies on their behalf for the BOR.

Since the bill did not pass, Students’ Association President Ryan Brunner and Vice President Tim Wrenn were looking into bringing the bill to the Interim Appropriation meeting of the legislature in June. The 18-member board meets in June and December for one day to look over the budget. Brunner and Wrenn recently learned from James Shekleton, BOR lawyer, that state law requires full legislative approval in order to build. Therefore, the bill will need to be brought before the legislature again during its next session. They can possibly attach an emergency clause to the bill that would put it into effect as soon as Gov. Mike Rounds signs it. Without the emergency clause , the bill would go into effect July 1.

“We’re working hard to pass it,” Brunner said. “We’re still on track in the pre-plan stage.”

Rep. Larry Tidemann said that he applauds SDSU’s student leadership for being involved. And they completely support this idea.

“It’s a good thing that students need,” Wrenn said.

Handling design and planning aspects for the new Wellness Center are the physical plant and central administration, Athletic Director Fred Oien said. The plans include a new building off the west side of the current HPER Center. It will have a separate entrance and access to the HPER pool. The new Wellness Center would have a second weight room and more access for students.

“It wouldn’t be interrupted with activities,” Oien said. “It doesn’t have to shut down and people can stay in their exercise routines.”

Reger echoed Oien’s statement saying that the new Wellness Center would not be closed during basketball or volleyball games like the current one.

Included in the new Wellness Center would be aerobic equipment and classes, a walking and jogging track, weights, spinning and possibly pilates classes. Reger said that health and counseling services as well as research space might be included too. Due to the larger size of the new Wellness Center more workout equipment may be purchased as well, Oien said.

“Money for new equipment will be budgeted over time.”