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Paying fees forward: OSU-Cascades students give to help make Student Success Center a reality

(Updated: adding video, comments from student body president)

Students pay more in fees in order to get new student center

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Students at OSU-Cascades have been using whatever space is available for their clubs and organizations. Now, they'll have a place of their own. The campus is officially getting a new Student Success Center, a project that will begin next year. And current students are helping make it happen.

Taha Elwefati, a Bend native, just finished his sophomore year at OSU-Cascades. He's studying political science and wants to go to law school. He's also the student body president -- and a champion for the Student Success Center.

The Oregon Legislature just approved $13.8 million in state-backed bonds to fund the new building.

However, funding isn't just coming from lawmakers -- OSU-Cascades students will be paying $5 million toward the project.

Students voted to increase their fees in order to raise that money -- even though most of these students will graduate before the center is built.

"It's unbelievable, the level of commitment that our students have," OSU-Cascades Interim Vice President Andrew Ketsdever said. "They know that these services are critical, they know that they're needed, and they're willing to put their money where those services are needed -- even though those students that are contributing to that fund now, won't see this building in their academic careers."

Students pay $300 in fees that go toward that extra $5 million. Elwefati says it means a lot that future students will be able to have a designated student center -- even if he won't be able to experience it.

"I think it gives us some perspective on what it's like to go to this school without those resources, and it's not something that I want those students to go through -- and it's not something I want people from Bend to have to go through. So it's nice to be able to fix it."

The Student Success Center will house career and academic advisors, tutoring, health services and space for clubs to meet -- just to name a few uses.

Ketsdever says a Student Success Center is critical for under-represented, first generation, low-income and rural students.

The next step for OSU-Cascades is to finish designing the center, so they can begin construction next year. It's expected to be completed by 2023.

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Carly Keenan

Carly Keenan is a multimedia journalist and producer for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Carly here.

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