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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Students thank state senate for Carver funding

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A student writes a message to a legislator at the Western Votes table Thursday, April 16, in Red Square. // Photo by Jake Tull

Western Votes, a student-led organization on Western’s campus invited students to write their own thank you messages to state senators for increasing funding for renovations to Sam Carver Gymnasium.

This demonstration on Thursday, April 16, and Friday, April 17 is also asking the State House of Representatives to help fund the rest of the money needed to fully renovate the building.

Washington’s House of Representatives released its proposal 2015-2017 budget earlier this year and has granted Western $65 million to renovate Carver Gym, with $16 million of that cost left for Western to pay.

Last Wednesday, April 8, the State Senate released its preliminary budget, and was prepared to give Western $70 million for renovations. This budget leaves $6 million under the total asked for by Western.

Originally, the plan for the demonstration was to construct a cardboard cutout of Carver Gym to symbolize the lack of stability and strength of the structure, said Patrick Eckroth, Associated Students Representative Engagement Programs director.

The original demonstration turned into a campaign in which students tweet photos of themselves holding a whiteboard with a message that expresses their thanks or concern about the funding of Carver Gym. These tweets will be sent to the public, as well as representatives in Olympia.

Oscar Aguirre, a Western senior and president of Western Votes, said Carver needs the funding for renovations.

“It’s a building that is seismically, very unsafe,” Aguirre said. “If there was any earthquake activity there is a severe possibility the building could have irreparable damage or collapse.”

Senior Sean McManus said he uses Carver Gym everyday.

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Sophomore Luciane DeAlmeida, communications coordinator of Western Votes, holds up a message she wrote to members of the Washington House of Representatives, on Thursday, April 16, in Red Square. // Photos by Jake Tull

“I’m a kinesiology student, so I have class in that building twice a week and you can tell it’s starting to fall apart,” senior Sean McManus said.

McManus said compared to every other building on campus it is definitely in the worst condition.

“It’s a safety thing,” said Nathan Romond, a Western junior studying physics and applied mathematics. “Whether or not you use it, you should be concerned about the safety of the other people on campus.”

The idea behind this campaign is to simultaneously support the recently proposed Senate budget and try to put pressure on the recently proposed House budget, Aguirre said.The photo campaign was created to have students share personal reasons about why funding Carver Gym is important and thanking the senate for their funding.

Romond said the photo campaign is a good idea. He said it adds a bit of a personal touch to what everybody is trying to say so it might cause some response.

“What it comes down to is nothing is going to happen if we don’t do anything, so anything that anybody is trying to do is positive in my opinion,” Romond said.

The State House of Representatives said student fees, donations or fundraising should be used to cover the difference in the budget, Eckroth said.

Western has been asking the legislature to fund renovations for Carver Gym as far back as the 1980s, Aguirre said.

Student lobbying for funding for Carver Gym started on Viking Lobby Day, which was held on Jan. 19, and was a key agenda item that day.

The weekend of April 18 is the end of the legislature’s regular session, but they will most likely extend the session so they can agree on a final budget, Aguirre said.

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