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Student voters opt for construction of ice rink

The rollover saga has come to an end. Almost. While the proposal to construct a winter ice rink won a clear plurality in a vote among students on how to use Macalester College Student Government’s $50,000 unallocated surplus, concerns about cost and practicality remain.

The rollover vote had a fairly low turnout. 788 students, or around 39% of the student body, voted to determine how to use the funds. The vote was divided into two sections: a selection among four large, fixed-cost ideas, and one among smaller ideas without a clear cost. In the first vote, 42 percent of students supported the ice rink, eclipsing any other idea by nearly a 2 to 1 margin. Ideas for a fund to improve student spaces around campus nearly tied, at 22 percent and 21 percent respectively. A proposal to improve bike infrastructure garnered only 13 percent of the vote. Among small ideas, a fund to increase the number of textbooks available on reserve got 400 votes, while using excess rollover funds for hammocks and murals each had around 350 votes.

MCSG Vice-President Jesse Horwitz said that a commission made up of interested students and student government members would “manage and oversee implementation.” Now that the vote has happened, ice rink advocates are facing two issues: uncertainty about how much the rink might cost, and figuring out how to get around barriers noted by Facilities.

Horwitz wrote in an email that there is not yet “a reliable figure” for the cost of the ice rink. Previous estimates had been around $30,000. Therefore, it is unclear if additional money will be available for other projects with significant support, such as buying more textbooks for the sharing program.

“Given the margin of victory [for the ice rink proposal] that is certainly our priority here,” Horwitz wrote. “It may be a ways down the road before we can outline where each dollar is going with certainty.”

Facilities staff are also raising concerns about the feasibility of the project. Jim Hoppe, the Dean of Students, raised this issue at the November 22nd MCSG Legislative Body meeting. He wrote in an email that “facilities staff was mainly trying to make sure that the potential obstacles were fully understood. My sense is they feel the project would not be as easy as folks might have hoped, and wanted to make sure all the appropriate questions were considered.”

If the ice rink ultimately did not work out, Horwitz said that the most likely event would be a runoff between the sustainable investment fund and a committee to improve student spaces.

December 1, 2011

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