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What is this new Student Experience Center?

Posted by: | March 1, 2010 | 1 Comment |

Let’s get to the basics:

What is this “Student Experience Center”?
In 2013, the bookstore’s lease is up, and they are currently exploring other location options. The paid-parking lot next to the Memorial UnionĀ  is set to be removed from campus as well. This is happening regardless of our proposal.

The Student Experience Center is a proposed 3 story building that will be built in place of the paid parking lot. In addition to a new building, the bookstore space will be renovated as a multi-purpose room for events and activities. These two buildings will be connected with a one-of-a-kind glass canopy that will keep students dry for outdoor activities (no more standing in the rain in the middle of the quad while the wind blows over your tent!). You’ll walk in to see a tall glass atrium with places to study and eat and additional conference rooms.

The building will be green and sustainable which will cut down your costs in the long run. We’re aiming to be LEED Gold certified.

All kinds of student activities will get an upgrade and be moved to the new, innovative building (Barometer, Greek Life, ASOSU, KBVR, etc).

Can we prevent the bookstore from moving? Can we save the parking lot?
No. There is nothing we can do to keep the bookstore where it is or save the parking lot. OSU’s initiative is to create a pedestrian campus. All we can do is make sure those spaces become something awesome for students instead of something we don’t want.

Plus, the bookstore moving could be a good thing! If they move somewhere with more retail parking and better access to Beaver fans then they will sell more merchandise, which is their main source of income. If they are able to sell more hats and hoodies, that means higher discounts on text books.

What’s wrong with the MU the way it is?
The last time the MU was expanded was in 1959 (we’re talking about the year that Alaska and Hawaii became states). At that point, OSU enrollment was 7,676. We see twice that amount just at Battle of the Bands in the quad. To put it in comparison, the U of O has a smaller enrollment than OSU does, but their student center is 20% larger.

There isn’t an older or smaller (compared to student body) student union building on the west coast. With this New Student Activity Center, not only would our programs thrive, our campus would have a new, technologically advanced student building.

Why can’t the student programs just stay where they are?
Snell Hall, which houses all those programs, is in terrible shape. The building is over 50 years old, and it was originally built to be a dorm. That means not only is it structurally unsound (some engineers think a strong wind would be enough to knock it down), it is also terrible inefficient. Let’s not even go into the leaking, mold, and everything else. The high-rise portion is being demolished (it’s just too unsafe to leave up) which will displace a ton of student programs. Are we going to let the campus get worse for us? Let’s make it better, instead.

Why not just renovate Snell?
For about the same price as renovating such a terrible building (no offense, Snell), we could just build a new, more innovative one.

What’s the cost?
Right now, we’re looking at $48 per student per term to build a whole new building, renovate the bookstore space, and build a glass awning over the space between. Fundraising options are being explored, and we hope to push it down to around $42.

This is extremely efficient for a project of this magnitude. Students at UC Irvine are paying over $130 for a similar project, and students at WSU are paying $120 just to renovate their current building. We have an opportunity to bring our MU out of the distant past and into the future.

Why are we paying? Shouldn’t the university pay?
The state legislature defines what sorts of buildings can be built with taxpayer money. Basically, only purely academic buildings can come out of that fund, so everything else has to come from student fees.

We’re in a recession, isn’t this bad timing?
Actually, this is our golden opportunity. If something must be put there eventually, now is the time. Check it out:

  • The bookstore is leaving. If we pass a referendum right now, we can have that space.
  • The parking lot by the MU is going away. If we pass a referendum right now, we get that space too.
  • Since we can get both, we can build a cool glass awning in between them to have some covered outdoor area.
  • Because of the economic situation, interest rates on construction bonds are extremely low. In addition, construction materials’ costs are way down. Steel and asphalt, for example, are both considerably cheaper than they should be.

All in all, if we do this right now, we can get prime real estate and construct for cheaper. If we don’t, then who knows what will be done with that space and who knows what you will be paying for. Plus, when we actually do get a new student building, it’ll be who-knows-where. Schools across the Pac-10 are getting similar renovations to their student unions, but their students are paying in the $100-200 range. This is the best bang for your buck option out there.

More Questions? Want more answers? Let us know.

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