Student Center plans expansions

Conversations have started between students and the administration to begin to begin planning and determine the feasibility of expanding the Student Center, although there are no major plans being made yet.

“Right now, there’s a lot of excitement and just discussion about the potential of a new Student Center. There are no plans, just conversations. I’ll tell you that students have really started and initiated this momentum, which is where anything like this should form, and from our perspective we understand it,” said Kim Harrington, the Director of the Student Center.

The idea was brought up at the Student Leader Retreat, with support from many. Sangita Sharma, the 2012 president of the Student Center Programs Council, is heading these efforts through forming the Student Center Governing Board made up of interested undergraduates, graduates, alumni and administration.

“I’m hoping to get a lot accomplished this semester. We put together a small student committee to determine if there really is a student need. We want to work to figure that out, and so we’re hoping to find out what students want in their Student Center and what they would be willing to do for it,” Sharma said. “We want to build student support and relay all of that to the administration on all levels.”

The need for this future expansion stems from increased enrollment numbers and the volume of traffic coming through the Student Center everyday.

“There were a lot of student organizations forming, as well as a lot of larger student organizations and our ability to meet those needs was diminishing,” Harrington said.

“I don’t use the student center that much per se, but depending on what the expansion was I might use it more and I could see how for people who use it more it could be more convenient,” said Kyle Dought, a first-year MSE major.

The current facility is 150,000 square feet, with 13 meeting spaces, eight tabling kiosks, one multi purpose Ballroom, one performance stage and one theater with 196 seats. According to Auxiliary Services, in fiscal year 2012, there were 15,380 reservation requests with 9,800 confirmations and 394 Ballroom events, in addition to the 26,636 in person information desk inquiries and 3.5 million visits to the Student Center.

Ultimately, this raise comes from the increase in enrollment numbers, which have gone up from 16,841 in 2004 to 21,557 in 2012. In turn, the student life space per student has also gone down from about 8.9 sq. ft. per student since the Student Center Commons opened in 2004 to about 6.95 sq. ft. per student in 2012. The Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education recommends 10 sq. ft. per student.

As the conversations about this possible expansion to the Student Center are in the very beginning stages currently, it is uncertain exactly where this expansion will be, how big the expansion will be, how much it will be cost or how it will be funded.

“Where are we in this process, we are at the very beginning stages and really assessing is this something we could do, should do, and is there student interest. Based on what we’ve heard and seen, there is.” Harrington said.