Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) is planning renovations to improve the Julian A. McPhee University Union (UU). In winter, students will be able to vote on whether they would like these changes — and whether the university can increase a UU fee to make it happen.
The plans are part of the ASI facility master plan, which includes assessing all facilities on campus.
The UU has been a central part of campus since 1971, housing student organizations and study spaces. To get student feedback about the UU renovations, ASI began with a series of surveys, focus groups and outreach activities, UU Advisory Board (UUAB) Chair and child development senior Sevelyn Van Ronk said.
“It all really started with figuring out what students are interested in improving, and from that we discovered what the University Union was lacking and that there needed to be more space,” Van Ronk said. “The UU is such a central part of our campus and used so often by students, improving it would really make sense.”
The next step began in Spring 2015 when more than 4,800 students took the UU survey. Students were asked about their current usage of the UU, what they would most like to see in a renovated and expanded facility and if they were likely to vote in favor of a fee increase to renovate.
Students said the UU is crowded and outdated with significant shortfalls in lounge, study and programming spaces. Sixty-eight percent of respondents said they would be in favor of a$185-$205 per quarter fee increase.
A majority of students — 84 percent — indicated it was a moderate to high priority to improve the UU. The UUAB submitted a petition to Campus Fee Advisory Committee (CFAC) to adjust the UU fee through an advisory student referendum.
The CFAC is composed of the ASI President Owen Schwaegerle, members of the ASI Board of Directors, the chair of the Academic Senate, human resources staff, the Vice President for Administration and Finance Karen Webb, the budget director, academic advisors and the associate vice provost for systems and resources.
After a unanimous choice, the committee recommended a student fee for the changes to the UU to Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong. Armstrong approved the decision, which will give students the opportunity to vote on whether they would like the upcoming changes to the UU, Board of Directors Vice Chair and agricultural science junior Jana Colombini said.
“That is one of the big things in ASI, we are all about student input,” Colombini said. “Students have a chance to vote on changes because it is for the students, by the students.”
With that in mind, ASI is focusing on making sure students are fully informed, according to Assistant Director of ASI Programs and Government Affairs Michelle Crawford. ASI is educating students about the survey results.
“It’s our due diligence in making sure they understand the entirety of what the student body said last year when they completed the survey,” Crawford said.
To provide diverse input about what students are looking for in an upgraded UU, the UU Advisory Council (UUAC) was created. The council consists of 23 students from organizations across campus such as the Cross Cultural Centers, greek life and ASI.
“They are the stakeholders in the project that students are going to be most impacted by,” Crawford said. “We tried to get the best cross section of students that can speak on behalf of all their fellow constituents for the need of the future UU.”
While this council will have a voice for the student body, every student needs to be aware of the process.
“The importance of every students being educated on this process is by far the most critical thing for students right now,” Crawford said.
All of the information will be available on Monday, Nov. 16 on the ASI Student Government page.
With a focus right now on the educational campaign, ASI is reaching out to organizations and the residence halls to ensure all students are informed.
Van Ronk has already been speaking to students, she said.
“The biggest educational campaign won’t begin until winter quarter where we’ll involve street teams and go to clubs, classrooms, sororities, fraternities,” Van Ronk said.
The Recreation Center went through a similar expansion process in 2008. With a lack of space at the old center, students voted in favor of the referendum for expanding the Recreation Center. It was possible because of student support, Van Ronk said.
“I get to enjoy the Recreation Center every single day I’m here on this campus, and so it makes me a little excited to be involved in the same kind of process that happened with the Recreation Center,” Van Ronk said. “This project allows us to find out more about what students have to say and that’s how they can have the biggest impact on this campus.”
By being a part of the process to expand the UU, students are affecting the future of Cal Poly.
“If the referendum does pass, students that took the surveys and were part of this process will never see the results,” Colombini said. “But it’s really kind of cool that we are providing for the future, and that they are here to make an impact and will affect campus for a really long time.”