The Norman Transcript

September 19, 2013

OU Board of Regents gives Boren greenlight to consider shelters

By Katherine Parker
The Norman Transcript

TULSA — While the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents approved all agenda items during Wednesday’s meeting at the OU-Tulsa Schusterman Center, two items brought forth the most positive response.

With recent tornadoes approaching within 10 miles of the OU campus, President David Boren said the board should be prudent and responsible for students by making sure they have somewhere on campus that is safe to go in the event of severe weather.

The agenda item presented to the board ranked several architectural firms under consideration to provide professional services for the construction of storm-hardened shelters on campus.

Boren emphasized that the item would not commit the university to building storm shelters and stated that the university was waiting on a study from Texas Tech to reveal the sustainability of various buildings on campus against an EF-5 tornado.

“We are particularly concerned with providing tornado shelters around the residence halls,” Boren said. “Those halls are homes for our students.”

Although the university does not know the total cost of building storm shelters, the board approved the item so OU may negotiate the terms of an agreement, starting with the highest-ranked firm, if the university chooses to pursue the project.

Additionally, Regents considered and approved another item that may have a significant impact on students.

Regent’s Policy 5.8 was modified so student activities fees may be allotted to scholarships.

The student committee in charge of activities fees cannot use funds for such a measure.

Ernest Ezeugo, president of the student government association; Madeline Grunewald, vice president of the student government association; Sam Kiehl, campus activities counsel chair; and John Montgomery, chair of undergrad student congress, all attended the Regent’s meeting in support of the change in the student activities fees’ policy.

“We want the board to know that we recognize that paying for higher education is our problem and that although a lot has been done before, we still want to take part in solving that problem,” Ezeugo said.

Boren said the reason funds from student activities fees are available is because the university has finished paying off bonds that renovated Oklahoma Memorial Union.

Each year, the students in charge of the fees have to review funds and make a decision on whether they want some of those funds to go to scholarships.

Although she was not sure exactly what number of funds would go toward student scholarships, Grunewald said she hoped all of the approximately $500,000 available would be used for that purpose.

“The more people that can obtain a higher education, the better off our populace will be,” Grunewald said. “If this only helps a few students, we will feel like it’s a step in the right direction.”

Katherine Parker

366-3541

kparker@normantranscript.com