WWU Trustees approve student fee for major expansion of Ethnic Student Center

Mary Gallagher
Western Today staff

The Western Washington University Board of Trustees approved a student fee increase Friday that will help build and maintain a major expansion of Western’s Ethnic Student Center.

The fee, no more than $30 a quarter to start no earlier than fall 2017, previously won approval from nearly 63 percent of students who voted in the WWU Associated Students’ most recent election. The trustees approved the fee along with other mandatory student fees Friday.

The project will increase the size of the Ethnic Student Center by more than five times, providing greatly enlarged, visible and more accessible space for the Ethnic Student Center and space for multicultural education and services.

“The Ethnic Student Center and Multicultural Services expansion will position Western to move into a leadership role as we focus on our mission of serving the state of Washington as a publicly purposed university,” said Eileen Coughlin, senior vice president for Enrollment and Student Services.

Architects out of Portland, Oregon, have developed several preliminary concepts to add space above the Viking Union Multipurpose Room or above the Associated Students Bookstore, with the possibility of connecting lobbies or skybridges.

A key element of the space will be to offer programs and services that encourage the broader university community to increase its knowledge of ethnic identity and increase its appreciation for multiple cultures. The building will be open and accessible to all Western students.

“This is an exciting opportunity for involving student leaders in designing space which will serve the entire university community while creating a welcoming space for the many diverse communities that are represented within the Ethnic Student Center,” Coughlin said. “This project reflects the tremendous leadership provided through the Associated Students and, more specifically, of the facilitation and inclusive leadership style of Abby Ramos, this year’s Associated Students Vice President for Diversity.”

The fee, applicable to students taking six or more credits, would support a bond issue of about $10 million to $12 million, plus an annual amount for operations and maintenance. The university is looking for an additional $5 million to $6 million in funding to bring the total project to $15 million to $18 million.

The university expects to begin design work for the project in fall 2016. The WWU Associated Students has approved an Executive Committee from the Ethnic Student Center to work on the project with the university’s planning team.

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