By JORDAN GARCEAU/Montana State News
Montana State University students traveled to Helena this week to voice support for a $28 million renovation of Romney Hall on the MSU campus.
House Bill 5 represents the Long Range Building Plan for the Montana University System, with the highest dollar project being Romney Hall. The Romney Hall renovation would allow for additional technology-enhanced classroom spaces, while also housing a new expanded Veterans Center, as well as a collaborative tutoring space for math and writing.
Holly Capp, a junior in the business program at MSU, testified in front of the Education Appropriations Committee reviewing the House Bill 5.
“I urge you to support the renovation of Romney Hall and see it as an investment in today and tomorrow’s society and economy,” Capp said. “The academic support services that the building would house will help keep more students in school beyond the freshman year and earn their degrees more quickly.”
The Associated Students of Montana State University, MSU’s student body government, have identified the Romney Hall renovation as one of their main priorities for the 2015 Legislature.
Romney Hall would also become Americans with Disabilities Act accessible if the renovation is approved on Capitol Hill. The building is not currently accessible or up to code for students who have a physical disabilities, which makes scheduling of classes and activities for these students difficult. The MSU administration and students are asking for $28 million from the state to complete the renovation.
Some legislators have expressed informal discomfort with providing MSU with $28 million for a renovation in the same year they are requesting in-state student tuition be frozen. Another concern is that $28 million could be better utilized if the plan was to reconstruct a new building instead of spending more money to renovate the old Romney building.
On the other hand, some legislators spoke out at the committee hearing in support of the renovations to Romney Hall. Sen. Bradley Maxon Hamlett admitted that even though he graduated from MSU’s rival school, University of Montana, he fully supports the Romney Hall renovation.
Hamlett compared Romney Hall to an old automobile needing to be polished. “You wouldn’t scrap the entire car just because some mice destroyed the interior. The building’s structure is in great shape.”
Gov. Steve Bullock toured Romney Hall in Bozeman on the same day the Education Appropriations Committee heard the opening presentation for HB 5. The Romney Hall renovation is a priority in the governor’s proposed budget.
The governor was lead through the historical Romney Hall by MSU Director of Communication, Tracy Ellig, MSU President Waded Cruzado and various faculty, staff and students.
Bullock ended his tour with open dialogue with students on the impact the renovation on Romney Hall would have on them, their peers, and future MSU students.
– Edited by David Crawford