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  • CU freshman Alex Weisbart jogs on a treadmill last week...


    CU freshman Alex Weisbart jogs on a treadmill last week in the cardio room at the Recreation Center, which students may vote next spring to renovate.

  • CU freshman Alex Weisbart jogs on a treadmill last week...


    CU freshman Alex Weisbart jogs on a treadmill last week in the cardio room at the Recreation Center, which students may vote next spring to renovate.

  • freshman Lauren Zickerman uses a machine in the cardio room...


    freshman Lauren Zickerman uses a machine in the cardio room at the Recreation Center last week.



University of Colorado students who are willing to hike student fees to pay for a multi-million dollar renovation of the campus’ aging Recreation Center will have an easier time doing so next spring thanks to a change in their student government’s constitution OK’d by voters last week.

As part of the CU Student Government’s fall election, which ended last Friday, 2,500 voters approved an amendment that lowers the percentage of affirmative votes needed from the student body to fund campus projects associated with student-fee increases of 1 percent or more.

Previously, the constitution required 25 percent of the student body — or about 7,500 students — to vote in favor of significant student-fee increases. Now, projects such as the planned Rec Center renovation will need 25 percent of the student body to vote in the election itself — but with only a simple majority required for passage.

“This is reasonable because a 25 percent total turnout has been reached twice in the past 10 years — in 2000 and 2006,” said Danielle Warly, the CU Student Government’s election commissioner.

Several funding referenda have been presented to CU students in recent elections, Warly said, but none received enough votes to pass under the previous requirement. In the past, some projects that required large fee increases that failed at the ballot box eventually were funded through a more cumbersome approval process within the student government.

“This is good for us because we have a better chance of passage if the referendum goes to a student vote,” said Cheryl Kent, director of the Rec Center. “This will not be easy — but it will be easier than before.”

Kent said Rec Center officials will work closely with CU student leaders this spring to encourage voter participation, although her staff will not campaign in support of the renovation.

“We want students to have the voice here,” Kent said. “If they don’t want it, then that’s fine. This is their choice and we want them to have their say no matter what their opinions are.”

CU sophomore David Shirazi said he uses the facility a few times a week and he doesn’t see a need for construction.

“It’s old, but everything works,” Shirazi said. “You shouldn’t try to fix something that’s not broken.”

Kent said the road ahead is still uncertain concerning the future of the campus facility. The last of three surveys that will be used to define the direction renovation will reach students the week after Thanksgiving.

Once the final plans are completed, they will be presented to several university officials for approval. If the plans survive that process, students will vote on a referendum in the spring, which will include a vague description of construction and the cost associated with student fees.

Students will then decide whether the changes are worth the proposed fee increase.

Kent stressed that a pricetag has not been placed on the project, although consultants hired to assess CU’s needs previously have said they’re looking at a two-phase project that would total $65 million to $80 million.

“We know we need to upgrade, but we don’t know if the university and the students will agree that now is the right time,” Kent said.

If the referendum is passed in the spring, students should not expect to see the fee adjustments associated with a Rec Center renovation until at least the fall of 2013 or 2014, Kent said.

“And that’s if everything goes smoothly,” she said.

While many details are undecided about the renovation — including the final cost — Kent said there are a few changes that are likely to occur despite tweaking of the current plans.

The weight and cardio rooms will be first priority, whether that means a remodel of what’s available now or new space and equipment, Kent said. These have been the biggest concern for students, according to surveys, and have remained consistent throughout more than a year of project planning.

CU senior Alison Seiler said she’d like to see some new cardio equipment. She said the ellipticals are out of date and added that the center could use a few more machines to avoid lines during the busiest parts of the day.

“We’re looking at adding another 160,000 square feet of new space,” Kent said. “It may not happen all at once and it may not even happen in one location, but we will end up with about 380,000 square feet when all the construction is finished.”

CU junior Oleg Uralou said he’d like to see some minor changes, but not until the economic climate levels out.

“It’s not a good time to raise students’ fees,” Uralou said.

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