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Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Fees committee outlines plan for Reitz renovations

Students may have a new Reitz Union without paying separate fees if the UF Board of Trustees approves a recent proposal.

UF's Local Fee Committee recommended Wednesday that renovations and expansion of the Reitz Union be funded by Activity and Service student fees, leftover student fee money and outside funding.

The Activity and Service Fee funds comprise the about $17 million Student Government budget, and funds student organizations and services such as RecSports, the Reitz Union and the student activities and involvement department.

Student Body Treasurer T.J. Villamil said the committee, which he is a member of, raises student fees by 5 percent each year, including the Activity and Service Fee.

That means Activity and Service Fees and Athletic and Health Fees will increase by a total of $1.51 per credit hour for next year, said interim Vice President of Student Affairs Dave Kratzer. Of that increase, $0.87 would go toward the Reitz Union renovation project.

The committee also found leftover money from already-collected Activity and Service Fees, and it expects to receive state money and alumni donations, Villamil said. If approved by the board, the committee will use the money for the construction.

Students voted against additional Reitz Union fees in a referendum on the spring 2010 Student Government elections ballot.

Villamil said being able to fund the project without additional fees was unexpected, but everything has fallen into place.

"Students have been wanting it for a while, and clearly after the referendum, students didn't want to pay a new fee," Villamil said.

Neither Kratzer nor Villamil knew of another school that was able to renovate and expand without charging students additional fees.

Sean Fahy, chairman of the Reitz Union Board of Managers, said the building needs structural and technical repairs. The building opened in 1967.

He said the proposed expansion would provide collaboration areas and lounge space and make student organizations more visible.

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"We want to have students discover themselves in the Union and find that place that is their second home on campus," he said.

Many organizations are currently housed in the building's third floor.

The Reitz Union Board of Managers started a "Make it Reitz" campaign last year and has started a petition. Fahy said about 2,700 or 2,800 students have signed the petition so far, and the board knows of about 40 letters of support. The board's goal is to have 5,000 signatures and 100 letters by the time the Board of Trustees reviews the recommendation in December.

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