Why Students Approved a New Fee to Expand Health Services at MSU
A largely student effort that led to passage of a referendum to expand Missouri State University’s Taylor Health and Wellness Center will offer more space and additional services for the school’s roughly 23,000 students, faculty and staff, retirees and their dependents.
President Clif Smart says the current facility, which has been the same size and in the same location for nearly 40 years, is woefully inadequate.
“Our students got together, researched this, and proposed a referendum which would essentially result in tearing down the current Taylor Health clinic and building a new, four-story clinic on the same space, which will offer expanded service like a women’s center and much more privacy and many more rooms. And we ought to be able to provide great medical care, primarily to our students, but also faculty and staff when that building’s done,” Smart says.
Nearly 4,000 students voted during homecoming week on the proposal, with over 80 percent approving it. Upon completion of the new facility in late 2017, a continuous $29 per semester student fee will go into effect.
According to Smart, state statute prohibits the school from imposing an across-the-board student fee beyond inflation or without a student vote. He adds that the operating budget did not allow for such a renovation. So in the end, students essentially voted to tax themselves.
“And so the students took it upon themselves to say, ‘Look, we don’t want to wait for an appropriation. That could be decades. We need this facility now.’”
Passage of the Health and Wellness Center referendum comes just two years after students also passed the BEAR fee, or a $50 per semester charge to upgrade athletic facilities on campus. By the time the $29 fee is enacted, it’ll be about four years since the BEAR fee went into effect.
Smart says the university is hesitant to support multiple fees within a short amount of time. MSU’s role in this process was limited to providing background information regarding how much the fee would need to be in order to fund the project. However, the promotion was left up to the students.
Now that the fee has been approved, Smart says the benefits should be vast, noting that safety is among the top concerns of prospective students and their parents.
“To have a brand new state-of-the art health building staffed with a wide variety of health professionals is a good thing both in recruiting new students and providing the kind of services students expect.”
MSU's tentative plans during construction are to temporarily move health services to the basement of Monroe Apartments and also into a modular building or buildings, if necessary.
Above, hear our entire conversation with President Smart, as part of KSMU's monthly program Engaging the Community.