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Transparency and openness are driving commitments throughout the construction process for the Student Union, Inc.  Please submit your questions, which we will review, discuss, research, answer, and post here. Those questions will form the basis for this Q&A page moving forward. Feel free to ask any question relating to the construction of the New Student Union and the enriched campus life it will bring.

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David Hoover, Instructor in the Department of Organization & Management in the College of Business, asks:
The recent removal of the old pepper tree in on the south side of the engineering building is a shame. It is compounded by the destruction of the magnolias (a particularly slow growing species) and the birch tree to the east of the old student union. The large pepper tree had survived both the old student union construction and the building of the new engineering facility. How does the university plan on replacing a tree of that age? I certainly hope it is not with more non-native palm trees. While they may be cheap and iconic, they offer little shade and limited visual appeal. Unfortunately, the trees have no say in the matter, nor was there any announcement regarding their imminent removal. Old trees are a unique and difficult to replace resource. The university needs to less dismissive of its important resources.

Mr. Hoover, the answer is:
We've received many comments about the removal of some of the older trees, and many comments regarding the possibility of trees other than palms being re-planted once construction has finished. While at first we did try to preserve many of the older trees around the construction site, it quickly became apparent that they would need to be removed. Unfortunately, the construction zone for this project is very tight, and there is no direct road access to the site.

We are certainly looking into replacing these losses. If you look at the renderings of the new building, you can see where we have planned planting sites for over a dozen trees, not including palms. But as you so correctly point out, the greatest loss here is time and age. Please know that we are doing our best while working in a very constricted construction zone and on a very old campus. We thank you for time and value your input.

An anonymous submitter asks:
My question concerning this project is mainly focused on the funding. So what I understand is that the school is now going into debt to pay for an enormous building that is going to generate revenue for the school. The problem is that the people who will be contributing to this revenue are the students themselves. The students don't need more things to pay for. The students need their tuition lowered, or at the very least for ir to stay the same. The students need more classes. The students need better tutoring programs. The students need more teachers. So why are we providing more things for the students to pay for instead of attempting to improve their educational experience? Could someone also explain how tearing down perfectly good buildings and then paying for them to be rebuilt bigger and better is somehow supposed to be "green?" The notion is ludicrous! I was also curious if this was approved during the tenure of our last head of the school who was making over $400k a year? Perhaps it might be a good idea to go back and re-examine this decision. The only problem is we are already in it too deep. All of this is rhetorical, as such. I'm only hoping that I am not the only one who realizes this. Very sad, really.

Thank you for your questions:
You seem to have many questions and concerns about the new facility, and I hope that our response can answer as many questions as possible. First off, none of the money paying for the Student Union Expansion and Renovation Project comes from the university. The school is not going into debt for the construction of this building, and none of the money used for it could have been allocated for teachers or other academic department expenses. Please visit the funding information page, at morecampuslife.com/funding, where you will discover that roughly half of the cost of construction for this building is being paid for by revenues generated by the Student Union, Inc. and saved for this purpose.

Secondly, the New Student Union building will be a huge improvement in students’ education experience. It will provide a necessary venue for almost every aspect of student life outside of the classroom, from student organization events to department and university conferences and everything in between.

As for the demolition of the Old Cafeteria being green, you can be assured that we are being as ecologically-minded as possible. We’re using green demolition techniques and we’re recycling as much of the original building’s material as possible. The construction of the new facility is an ecological investment. By replacing buildings that are 40 or 50 years old with ones using modern, more environmentally-conscious systems and materials, we can be sure that our campus will have a largely reduced ecological footprint for decades to come.

In terms of the project’s approval, the process leading up to the construction of this project goes back almost a decade. It spanned multiple different university presidents and capitalized on the opinions of many individual students, as well as input from many focus groups consisting of members of student organizations.

The new facility is tightly funded through revenue the Student Union, Inc. generates and collects outside of university and department budgets. I hope that some of the information provided here and on the MoreCampusLife.com website will be helpful to your concerns.

A submitter asks:
I was just curious to know if the university had to submit an environmental impact report since the old Student union was demolished and is being built again, or if for some reason it was able to submit a mitigated negative declaration. Thanks.

Thank you for your question:
On February 4, 2009, the State Clearinghouse submitted a Mitigated Negative Declaration (SCH #2009012006) for the Student Union Expansion & Renovation Project to selected state agencies for review. It should also be noted that the Student Union is not slated for demolition. Rather, the project includes the demolition of the Old Cafeteria, the construction of a Student Union expansion, and the renovation of the old Student Union facility.

The Mitigated Negative Declaration is a public document and should be available at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library. You can also download the report in two parts here[PDF] and here[PDF].

 

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