Student senate raises nearly $50,000 internally to renovate library lobby

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An estimated $50,000 will be the price tag on the upcoming renovations in the library fireplace lobby, marking the final project of this year’s student senate. To finance the project, student body president Jonathan Eigege raised funds from three different budgets in the college.

Eigege raised $20,000 from the Campus Activities Fund, $20,000 from the college cabinet and $8,000 from senate’s own 10K Initiative.

To clear up any confusion on funding sources, Cindy Kok, interim vice president of student life, explained that the Campus Activities Fund is made up of dollars generated from the Student Activity fee, which is part of the student tuition.

“The purpose of the fund is to provide funding to support a vibrant student experience and campus,” said Kok. “At the beginning of this year, $20,000 was set aside to improve student space.”

According to Kok, this fund has historically been used to fund sexuality series programming, student activities programming, weekend programming and Rangeela expenses.

Sally Vanderploeg, vice president of administration and finance explained that the funding from cabinet came from an expected surplus in the college-wide contingency fund budget — a fund used to cover emergency expenses such as the fire that broke out in the physical plant over Christmas break.

“As we get closer to the end of the school year, we find that we have not used all the contingency funds,” said Vanderploeg. “We think we’re going to have surplus in the budget and it looks like we can use that money for renovation.”

Vanderploeg also explained that survey findings which compared Calvin and other college campuses revealed that Calvin is not allocating as much of their budget towards infrastructure needs as their peers.

“We realized that as we are trying to build debt into the budget, one way that we can try to fund those infrastructure needs is by setting up these college improvement funds with surplus at the end of the year,” said Vanderploeg.

To simplify how the college allocates its surplus funds, Vanderploeg gave an analogy of a homeowner.

“I look at it as if I’m an individual — I have a salary and I also have rent to be paid, so the debt for our college is kind of like our mortgage payment,” said VanderPloeg. “But I might want to do renovations on my house and I probably don’t build that into my monthly budget.”

However, Vanderploeg explained that if a homeowner received a tax refund back or an extra unexpected sum of money at the end of the year, you might put that into a renovation.

“So that’s what we’re trying to do with the college improvement fund,” said Vanderploeg. “We can take surplus at the end of the year and set it aside and designate it towards infrastructure, towards campus improvement.”

While renovation is expected to begin in early June, the project has long been planned by student senate. For Eigege, the idea began in a discussion he had with President Le Roy on the strategic plan last June.

Le Roy explained his three big plans for the academic year: the renewal of spaces, branding and the core and educational framework.

“For me, naturally the most exciting of those three, the biggest potential, was in the physical spaces,” said Eigege. “I knew we had to do something tangible so I spoke to John Britton [associate dean for campus involvement and leadership] a lot about physical spaces and why we have a need for it; one thing we saw is that commuters are underserved.”

A survey issued by student senate in the fall revealed that 52 percent of respondents said they used the library lobby while 65 percent of that number use it on a semi-regular (monthly) basis.

The survey also revealed that the space was multi-functional as students used the library lobby for conversation groups, to rest, to talk and to do homework.

“What’s weird about that space is it’s so multifunctional,” said Eigege. “The languages have colonized the space for conversation groups.”

“If you’re a commuter, where do you go after classes?” asked Eigege. “The best way I’ve heard it [said] was from a consultant in architectural firm Ayers Saint Gross, who described it as ‘kind of like you’re homeless during the day.’”

Other viable options student senate looked into included the Spoelhof atrium and the nooks in North Hall with the former found to be already committed to admissions and the latter too disjointed.

While the library lobby is viewed as the most viable place to create another short-term major student hub on campus, Eigege also recognizes that upgrading won’t entirely solve the problem of commuter space.

“It was always clear in the long run there would be a fix to this problem but we asked, ‘Why can’t we create a short term fix,’” said Eigege.

Following a series of student focus groups to get student feedback on the project, a team of three senators submitted findings to the assistant director of design, Dean Gunnink, who coordinated with the team on a final design. This design was then voted on by student senate.

Looking ahead, Eigege noted his excitement for the completed project.

“I hope the space is accessible for all students and I hope that we have a few less ‘homeless people’ during the daytime on campus,” said Eigege. “Once people see the space, they’ll love it for sure. I just want it to be a mini-Johnny’s. It’s definitely the thing I’m the proudest of this year.”

Proposed library lobby design (Photo courtesy student senate)

Proposed library lobby design