Student union project ‘running smoothly’
The dream of a student union is close to becoming a reality.
Berkley junior Steve Latour, Student Union Committee co-chair, said he thinks the project will come to fruition.
“In the past two or three years, it’s only been talk,” he said. “People have said, ‘We’d like a bigger university center; we’d like a student union.’”
But now, he said, there is action.
The project is moving forward, Latour said. Supporters of the idea include University President Michael Rao, the Board of Trustees and the Student Government Association.
“The Board of Trustees has recognized the proposal. They’ve reviewed the proposal and they’re meeting now for a study that President Rao has initiated,” he said. “Everything is working toward getting one.”
Rao has brought in a company to determine the best possible area for the structure, Latour said.
“What this company will do is survey areas and what traffic patterns will be like in that area,” he said.
The area that surrounds the Health Professions Building, the Bovee University Center, Finch Fieldhouse and the Charles V. Park Library is being examined right now, as these are all high-traffic areas, Latour said.
“Basically this company is going to look at all the options and give suggestions to the Board of Trustees,” he said.
A report will be submitted to the Board of Trustees in the beginning or middle of May, Latour said. Assuming all steps are completed, construction would not begin for at least another one or two years.
The Student Union Committee will not meet again this semester, but will reconvene in the fall, he said.
“The Board and President Rao have said this is an important thing,” Latour said. “No one has said no. The project is moving forward at a normal pace that other building projects in the past have moved at.”
However, he said students have no ideal place on campus where they can relax and gather with friends.
“We’re looking for a central gathering place, something that all of the students at the university have to go to every day to see their friends and pick up the latest information,” Latour said.
The Bovee University Center only seats 30 people in its commons area and just more than 100 people in the Down Under Food Court, he said. Also, the building lacks nightlife, because the offices shut down at 5 p.m. and the Down Under Food Court at 6 p.m.
While students do gather at the Park Library, Latour said the quietness does not allow for a great deal of socializing.
Other schools in the Mid-American Conference also see the need for such a place, he said. Bowling Green State University gutted and rebuilt its student union, Grand Valley State University is now expanding and renovating its structure and Eastern Michigan University is now looking at a new student union.
CMU’s student union also could be a renovation or expansion of a pre-existing structure, Latour said.
Research conducted also showed CMU students wanted the meeting place.
The Student Union Committee conducted surveys, visited student organizations and departments and discussed the idea with SGA, he said. SGA representatives then took the discussions back to their Registered Student Organizations and had those members discuss the idea.
There also was a student union marketing campaign and a CM LIFE Web poll, Latour said.
“We tried to get a large scope of people,” he said. “All of the information we’ve been gathering said students wanted that. They did not, however, want to see another fee put on their tuition bill.”
The Board of Trustees would like the student union to come up with its own funds, Latour said.
“They want to make sure that there are things in that building that would pay for the expenses the building would incur,” he said.
The project is running smoothly, Latour said.
“The student union project is moving forward.”
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