Plans for a $52 million makeover for the California State University, Stanislaus, student union are up for a vote Thursday and Friday, with today’s students making the call and future students footing the bill.
The aging building requires major structural work, and the University Student Union is proposing a complete upgrade instead. The proposal would add $209 per semester in student fees for at least 30 years, beginning in the fall of 2019, when the new center is expected to open. An anticipated two years of construction would start in 2017.
“We kind of realized it was now or never for this,” said USU Board Chairwoman Natalie Dykzeul. The Turlock campus has raised its profile recently, she said, along with expectations for its student union. “It’s time.”
The “pro” statement on the referendum information sheet says the upgraded facility “would change the campus dynamic,” providing a home away from home for students. The “con” statement notes only the cost, saying “Not all students see the University Student Union as a facility that will benefit them.”
The Stanislaus Tutoring & Mentoring Program is protesting the $209 charge on its Facebook page, noting that means $418 a year for students, most of whom are still in high school and unable to vote.
The fee would be on top of semester fees of $77.50 already paid to the USU, $133.50 paid for the student recreation complex and $100.50 paid for athletics, as well as health services costs. Student voting on the referendum will take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday in the Student Event Center behind the student union on campus. It requires a simple majority to pass.
We kind of realized it was now or never for this.
USU Board Chair Natalie Dykzeul
In exchange for that $209 fee, the makeover would roughly double the footprint of the University Student Union, adding conference, tech, study and napping spaces. A sleeping room, possibly with recliner-like pods, was the highest priority on a student survey conducted by the USU, Dykzeul said.
The plan includes space for the campus bookstore and other vendors, possibly a bank or cafe. The existing Warrior Grill is proposed for expansion into a sports pub, with booths, large televisions, pool tables and darts.
A space yet to be designated could serve as a 24-hour student study center, a career center, or a diversity center, support and encouragement centers popular on other CSU campuses. Tech additions would include charging stations throughout study areas sprinkled throughout nooks and large hallways, an innovation center and a computer center that could accommodate working groups.
A multipurpose auditorium for up to 300 people would be available for large student groups now booking classrooms for their meetings. What is now a free-standing campus bookstore would expand into what is being called a ballroom, a flexible event space able to hold more than 1,000 waltzing or 500 seated guests.
The existing student union building needs seismic and fire alarm upgrades, and its 37-year-old mechanical systems for heat, cooling and Internet access need to be replaced, said Cesar Rumayor, USU executive director. The renovation would allow far greater energy efficiencies, he said, incorporating self-sustaining practices like solar energy as much as possible.
The proposed renovation would expand the two-story University Student Union from 50,000 square feet to 90,000 square feet.
Building could not begin until plans were approved by the campus and the state, and financing arranged. Plans call for working around the campus cafeteria and student union offices throughout construction, leaving a functional nucleus even as the building expands. The first story would extend west toward the campus quad, east to the event center and north, squaring off what is now an hexagonal pop-out.
The university has been consulted throughout and supports the proposal, Dykzeul said. But until students approve the referendum, Stan State has taken no official position, said university spokesman Tim Lynch.
“If the referendum is approved by students, the university will then examine whether the project falls within the budget inherent in the referendum proposal, and the outcome must come close to the USU’s project description/cost,” Lynch said via email.
When looking at the cost and building closures entailed in making the required repairs, the remake just made more sense, Dykzeul said.
“This building should be the center of student life on campus, and with the space we have now we feel we are not offering that service,” she said.
“Our university needs it,” said Hailey Holm, USU Board vice chairwoman.