By Jane Oetgen, For The Miami Student
Since it opened in January 2014, the Armstrong Student Center has been available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. However, Miami officials are now interested in exploring whether or not the expenses of Armstrong reflect its value and are worth students’ constant access to the building.
To operate Armstrong, Miami pays an average $24,890/month in electric bills, $13,142/month in steam bills, $11,635/month in waste and sanitation costs and $8,779/month in chilled water costs, according to Cody Powell, associate vice president of facility planning and operations.
While engineering the building, Miami’s utility staff made several adjustments to cut back on these operational costs, Powell said.
The university installed occupancy sensors in the construction of the student center, he said. The occupancy sensors help control the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning when certain spaces are not occupied. This helps reduce the cost of operation during the late/early morning hours of the weekdays when the building is lightly occupied.
Katie Wilson, the director of Armstrong, keeps track of how and where the building is occupied at different hours of the week. Although many students can be found in Armstrong during the day, Wilson said that number dwindles during the late hours of the night.
Typically, students clear out of Armstrong between the hours of 3 a.m. and 7 a.m. on Sunday through Thursday nights, and Wilson said it is not rare for no students to be in the building during these hours.
“I spend most of my time at Armstrong during the day, but I know a lot of my friends who go late at night and find it really helpful,” said first-year Hannah Greulich. “I’ve been to Late Night Miami events there, too.”
Greulich thinks it’s beneficial to keep Armstrong open 24/7.
Armstrong provides students with several dining options, quiet study rooms, meeting rooms, offices for the many student organizations on campus and ample lounge space. A large portion of the student center’s costs come from the dining services operations.
According to first-year Angel Spanos, Armstrong’s Pulley Diner is a favorite among students at Miami.
“I go to Armstrong after midnight sometimes and especially love going to Pulley on the weekends,” Spanos said. “I think it is definitely worth it to keep Armstrong open all the time.”
Spanos said she thinks Armstrong is much more popular during weekend nights than weekday nights.
Senior Chris Curme is chairman of the Armstrong Student Center board of directors, which did extensive research and planning when the building was still a work in progress.
Curme said the board is aware of these financial questions and is certainly interested in looking into the subject. However, he said the university prides itself that Armstrong is open all the time.
According to Curme, it is important for the board of directors to observe other student centers across the country.
“When we were doing preliminary research during the development of [Armstrong], no other college’s student center was open 24/7, and we were quite proud of that,” Curme said.