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Trustees to Talk Facility Access, Alcohol, And Appropriations

The Penn State Board of Trustees will convene on Friday in Hershey after a busy day of committee meetings coming up today.

The notable items on the agenda include the reappearance of controversial recreational facility access changes, alcohol service at intercollegiate athletics facilities, and the Pennsylvania budget impasse.

“It is truly not something I want to spend money on if I can help it,” Penn State president Eric Barron said in November of the proposed $7.5 million security upgrade to campus rec facilities.

In following with a Freeh Report recommendation to “increase the physical security and access procedures in areas frequented by children or used in camps and programs for children,” the proposed project will install turnstiles in Rec Hall, White Building, and McCoy Natatorium.

The project also includes renovations to the buildings to promote the sense of a main entrance, and an annually recurring $420,000 cost to staff desk attendants who will swipe identification cards at building access points.

Graduate & Professional Student Association president Kevin Horne voiced his criticisms of the proposal on behalf of the three student government organizations at that November Committee on Finance, Business, and Capital Planning meeting.

“I know this project would make it look like we’re implementing security, but I’m not bullish it can actually work on buildings this complex and old,” Horne said. “…We’re at a place where we can’t find a $100,000 in the budget to hire a CAPS counselor so students’ mental health needs are met, and we’re about to spend $420,000  a year just to say we’re keeping townies out of the gym.”

The finance committee will also vote on a number of construction projects, including a $33.6 million new building at North Halls, $29.3 million for the third phase of the Intramural Building renovation, a $65.1 million East Halls renovation, and a $15.5 million renovation of a building at Penn State Hazleton.

While it isn’t clear just what the Committee on Legal and Compliance will talk about regarding alcohol at intercollegiate athletics facilities, athletic director Sandy Barbour and vice president for finance and business David Gray are down on the agenda for the Thursday committee meeting.

As for the Pennsylvania budget crisis, a pair of Penn State administrators will give an update on the situation involving the potential $300 million budget shortfall that would come from no state appropriation and the impact the impasse is having on Hershey Medical Center. Vice president for government and community relations Michael DiRaimo will present along with assistant vice president for governmental health relations Sheilah Borne.

The full board will vote on the long-awaited strategic plan that lays out the next five years for the university through 2020.

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