Brennan Angel

The University Union will undergo renovation soon, if a plan gains approval by Associated Students Inc. executive director Rick Johnson and Cal Poly President Warren Baker.

The second floor of the UU will eventually be transformed according to student interests and demands, said Brandon Souza, UU Advisory Board chair and agribusiness senior.

“We have identified the upper floor of the UU as primary space for students to socialize,” Souza said. “But it also provides students a study atmosphere between classes and especially during finals week.”

Souza said that changes would provide more room for students wishing to study, hang out with friends, or just relax.

“We are working with a design firm to best maximize the space in the upper floor of the University Union,” Souza said. “This is done to provide more study space for students and to basically improve the current spaces we have in terms of aesthetics.”

ASI has chosen OMNI Design Group Inc., the company that built the Epicenter section of the UU, for the renovation. However, no definite plans have been made or approved by either Johnson or Baker.

The UU, which is supported by student fees, was built in 1971. Some students agree it is showing its age and needs to be updated.

“They need to brighten up the concrete,” English senior Megan Madsen said. “In addition, the UU needs to have secure computer access.”

Others said the current UU design has left them scrambling to find a place to sit down and read. Communications senior Stephanie Ericsson said that lack of space in the UU forced her to find other study spots.

“I rarely come here anyways,” Ericsson said. “I have alternative places to hang out and study, like the library.”

Souza acknowledged that certain changes do have to be made in a timely manner. But other factors play a role in reshaping the nucleus of student life on campus.

“We basically need to soften up the study places that we have,” Souza said. “Furniture and other related items do need to be replaced and updated. So we’re taking a look at the traffic flow of the union and how it affects students.”

Souza also said that the new design should avoid knocking down walls as much as possible within the current second floor design.

He made it his goal to make the UU an enjoyable area where students can come in between classes, on weekends and be comfortable at the same time.

But like any other construction project, updating the UU to modern standards requires plenty of funding. In addition, Souza stated that the process of soundproofing and asbestos removal could drive up the cost of renovation.

“Improvements are done through student fees and past referendums,” Souza said. “But the funding will come mostly from reserve accounts. We are very uptight on raising the tuition.”

However, with the Cal Poly student population growth around 2 to 3 percent a year, the second floor has to accommodate more students, said Michelle Broom, ASI public relations and marketing coordinator.

“The demand is huge,” Broom said. “We have to expand student capacity. More seating would be ideal.”

But construction of the project could take months or even years. And the timing of the project, when approved, also plays a big role in its completion.

“Ideally, it would take place over the summer when there are fewer students on campus,” Broom said. “But construction projects often run over (time).”

Broom said that any construction in the UU should only have a minimal impact on students. But others thought it would drastically affect their decision to go there.

“Other places like the library could be more crowded due to the construction,” Madsen said.

However, Souza said that the UU would remain open to students when the modernization starts.

“Our goal is to never close down an entire facility,” Souza said. “We pay these (UU) fees every quarter, and it should come back to the students.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *