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The Orion

Disagreement unfolds among Chico State campus following $2 million patio


The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund allocated $1.6 million to Chico State’s newest project, The Patio

Located outside the Wildcat Recreation Center, The Patio was approved by the Associated Students’ Facilities Committee and funded through HEERF under the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act. 

The 10,000-square-foot gated space opened to students on Monday. Featuring various amenities including a fire pit, waterfall, and furniture. 

According to a presentation made by AS summarizing the project’s funding and details,  AS contributed a remaining $300,000.

Screenshot of the AS presentation summarizing the funding of The Patio

But on October 10, 2022, the board of directors held a meeting approving an increase in the allocated amount to $412,000 because AS fell short by $112,000 in expenses. 

Screenshot of the Board of Directors meeting minutes on Oct. 10, 2022, discussing an increase in the money AS allocated

Chico State alumni and Former AS Vice President of Facilities and Services Michelle Davis said the idea was to build an outdoor wellness space for students to relax and take care of themselves.

Davis served as the VP of Facilities and Services for the 2022-2023 school year. Her role included the approval of the construction of The Patio, among other things.

Chico State’s student body government made a vote on the project through the facilities committee. The project was passed with full support from the voting committee of about eight members.

After being approved by the facilities committee, it went to the AS Board of Directors and was voted for final approval. The board is made up of six student representatives, the VP of Student Affairs, the VP of Business and Finance and a staff representative.

But the decision wasn’t planned overnight. Vice President of Business and Finance Johnathan Montes, said this project was a lengthy process. 

The idea started around 2020, and was inspired by the CSU Northridge Oasis Wellness Center. When the HEERF money became available in 2021, AS pitched the idea of an outdoor space for students. 

Despite the majority of the cost being funded by HEERF, some students thought it was a waste of money.

WREC user and third-year student Ethan Morell thought the money could have been put somewhere else more beneficial. 

“There’s many other spots where people can hang out,” Morell said.

Others voiced their opinions through Instagram on April 10 after the WREC and AS made a  post revealing the outdoor space’s official name. 

“This is a terrible plan for the money. There’s enough ’patios’ on campus. Sucks that you guys chose this concrete jungle over helping the school’s clubs and programs,” said user @justelle7. Another user, @amyelsen said, “I’m curious why Chico State decided to cut down trees to put in more trees? Doesn’t really match their value of land stewardship…”

However, Montes explained the funding was restricted and AS had to follow rules in order to make The Patio possible. This included an outdoor facility for students that would promote wellness.

“The HEERF has a specific way they can spend the money,” Montes said. The space was also required to be in use in the event of another lockdown.

Under a strict deadline to submit a request for the usage of the HEERF fund, Davis said they wanted to take advantage of an opportunity with funds that would benefit students best. 

“Had we not like passed it back then, we would not have access to that funding anymore,” Davis said.

Satisfied with the space, Davis believes the impact it’ll bring to students will be long-lasting.

Following its opening, student Yaritza Hernandez enjoyed the new space and believed it was a nice touch to campus. “I think it’s just more space for students to come out to other than the main campus,” Hernandez said. 

Additionally, Davis believes other benefits exist to the new addition to campus.

Throughout recent years Chico State has faced a gradual enrollment decline. Chico State’s 2023 spring enrollment was at 13,018 students. Though low enrollment rates weren’t a factor in the development of The Patio, AS had conversations as to how it could possibly impact enrollment.

 “I think that’s going to really draw students to Chico State, seeing all these amazing things that’s happening out on our campus,” Davis said.

Montes considered the increase in worth the new landscaping would yield. “It is a good investment because now our facility in that area is worth more value.”

Director of The WREC, Teresa Clements, also looks forward to the new addition. 

“We’re excited for the space to open to give students another place to destress and reset. A big use of the space will be for students to just drop in and take advantage of being outside and the amazing power of nature, the outdoors and live plants,” Clements said.

According to an article released by AS, the space will host activities including yoga and meditation.

To access the area, students will log on to the WREC app and scan their barcode.

Recognizing the negative feedback towards the space, Davis encourages those who were upset about this project to get more involved in committees and attend their public meetings.


Milca Elvira Chacon can be reached at [email protected]

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About the Contributor
Milca Elvira Chacon
Milca Elvira Chacon is a journalism major with a minor in Broadcasting. She was a contributor for The Orion last semester, but is now officially working for the student-led newspaper. She hopes to strengthen her writing skills and contribute to stories that will positively impact the community. Outside of journalism, she enjoys hanging out with her friends and working out.

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  • H

    Humberto // Oct 5, 2023 at 5:36 am

    I’m definitely gonna take advantage of the Patio. If I understood correctly, does that mean that the money used for it, would’ve just been wasted so in a way they had to use it for something, like anything related to COVID or outdoor? Thank you for reporting Milca.

    • S

      Sean // Oct 9, 2023 at 12:42 pm

      The 1.6 million was earmarked for an outside facility, though the 412k AS contributed was not and could have been used in much better ways.

  • G

    Gavin // Oct 4, 2023 at 6:33 pm

    I like the patio and think it will be a nice addition. However, you must access it through the wrec, requiring waiting for the slow barcode to load in the app to get in. It may not seem like a big deal for wrec regulars, but I think it adds a barrier to entry to most students. It’s much harder to meet at or casually use this way. The library is so popular because it doesn’t have this friction. No one can use it on holidays when the wrec is closed either. This is the only thing I would change.

    • S

      Sean // Oct 9, 2023 at 12:40 pm

      Paying 2 million dollars for a “nice addition” is ridiculous, that’s what I would change.