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Student forums March 28-29 to explain new union, relocations

University Union, proposed 2012, Perkins+Will architectsBy Stefanie Ritz, assistant director, assessment, planning and marketing, University Union

The union master plan committee worked closely with a group of students to address the top three concerns for UNT students about the proposed new union. The information below may be helpful to pass along to your students and friends who may have questions about the plan.

I would also like to ask you to please invite your student employees, friends, and those you advise to attend one of  two student forums student forums scheduled 5 p.m. March 28, in the union Courtyard and 9 a.m. March 29 in the One O'Clock Lounge. Free refreshments will be provided. Alumni, students, and architects from Perkins+Will will be on hand to answer questions.

Only students may vote on a referendum to assess a fee for construction of a new facility. Online voting will be from April 2 to April 6

The vote, approved by the Student Government Association, will ask for approval of a fee no greater than $115 per semester to be assessed to students beginning in fall 2014. Above, architect's drawing of new union dining area.

Here is information, provided by the University Union Master Plan Committee, about construction:

Displacement of academic community

Faculty, staff, students, and administrators from the academic community have been intricately involved in discussions regarding the Union Master Plan. Members of the faculty from departments in the affected halls have been active representatives on the Master Plan Committee since the project began. The university and the members of the committee are dedicated to doing this with minimal disruption to any academic programs. The University Master Plan does call for the demolition of Scoular and Stovall Halls. This plan was established in 2005, prior to the beginning of the union plans.

The Office of the Provost, deans of the colleges and administrators are now working to finalize the long term plans for these programs. Please know that the students’ needs and program advancement are the upmost priority. These groups will continue to communicate with students and a student forum for these programs will be planned soon.

Construction Time and Operations

A conservative estimate for construction time for the renovation and expansion of the union is approximately 24 months. During this time all programs and services that were housed in the union, including food, entertainment, student affairs offices and retailers will continue to operate in nearby locations that will be convenient to students. No student jobs would be lost during this time. The current plan schedules construction to begin June 2013 with an opening date around June 2015. As soon as locations are finalized a map and  listing will be made available to students.

Fee Increase

A survey of students conducted in 2009 indicated that the majority of students were comfortable with an increase of between $110-$125 per semester for a renovated and expanded union. The referendum would call for an increase of no more than $115 per semester. Over a four year period that comes to around $1.33 per day.

The union fee covers many different things, including operations, programming and entertainment, student services, meeting spaces and the maintenance on the facility. Every cent of that goes to enrich the lives of students on campus in some capacity.

The committee is sensitive to the financial hardships of students, and as one of the largest student employers on campus, we offer many benefits for our student employees. With a renovated and expanded union, more student jobs would be created, offering opportunities for UNT students to help ease their financial burden.

A few highlights of the proposed new union plans:

  • Natural Light, Openness, Clear Entries
  • All New Interior Spaces
  • Exciting New Exterior Image
  • 24 / 7 Zone with Diner & Corner Market
  • Sustainable Design – Target LEED Platinum
  • All New Bookstore
  • 15 percent more union Offices
  • 75 percent more Food Service and Entertainment
  • 75 percent more Auditorium and Meeting Space
  • 100 percent more Lounge and Gallery Space
  • 125 percent more Student Groups and Orginizations

Posted on: Tue 27 March 2012

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