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Student Union Conference aims at colloberation, improvement

Published: Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 01:10

Student Union directors

Tanner Garza

Although students no longer need to flee to a central location on campus to connect with the rest of the student body, the Memorial Student Center is still one of the most popular places on campus. It’s a question other schools are trying to answer as well.

Schools from the Big XII and the SEC have come to Texas A&M for an annual Union Directors’ Conference to discuss the issue of student unions on college campuses, and how to improve them. The conference began on Sunday and will conclude Wednesday.

Luke Altendorf, Director of the MSC, said that on the first day the renovation the MSC underwent was highlighted.

“We talked about the renovations of the building and the process that went along with it and gave a tour of it,” Altendorf said.

Originally, students from across campus would flock to the MSC throughout the day and night, because that was where everyone went. It was where students ate, bought books, studied, etc.

The renovations have improved the living room, making it the hotspot it is today. The directors from the other unions said they recognized the improvements.

“I love the windows and how everything shines as you walk through,” said Bradley Baker, director of campus programming at Ole Miss. “ Even on a cloudy day, the light still shines through.”

The conference is something the directors get together for every year. It was planned before A&M moved into the SEC, which is why the Big XII is present. The University invited schools from the SEC, hence the name of the conference, “Big XII and Friends,” said Dave Salmon, Associate Director of the MSC.

The four-day conference has several components to it. Monday consisted of a presentation over lessons learned from the Texas A&M University Renovation and Expansion project of the MSC, a tour of the MSC, a discussion of expressive activity on campus, and reports from the different universities.

“One of the biggest problems we have with our [student union] is it was last renovated in 1976. At the time, there were 8,000 students at Ole Miss. There are 20,000 now,” Baker said. “The space y’all have here is unbelievable. The size of the rooms and technology y’all have available is great.”

Salmon said it is great for the directors of the other universities’ student unions to get to see A&M’s newly renovated student center, because it helps give ideas and processes for other schools who are considering renovation or reconstruction.

Throughout the Monday and Tuesday reports, each university invited discussed things that they are doing with their student centers and entertained thoughts of change and ideas to share with the rest of the universities to provide a collaboration of ideas that do and do not work.

The 18 universities at the student union conference are trying their best to make sure that life among the center of campus is sustained for years to come to mark a sense of tradition and cross-college collaboration.

“I know that A&M and UT Austin have had their athletic differences, but it is nice to know we are playing for the same team when it comes to showing our respective student bodies love, care and devotion through the offerings of our college unions,” said Crystal King, director of the Student Activity Center at the University of Texas.


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