Union cuts back on burning the midnight oil

Erin Beck

After a less than compelling trial run that kept The Union open an extra two hours, The Union is planning to phase out its extended hours in the next two weeks.

Toward the end of last semester, the closing hours for The Union were extended from midnight to 2 a.m. for a one-month trial.

The Student Union Advisory Council, or SUAC, came to a final decision on the extended hours policy Jan. 19, setting it back at midnight due to the low number of students in the morning hours.

From Nov. 14 to Dec. 15, student managers took a count of students in the building every half hour each night from midnight until 2 a.m. After the trial the data was compiled by Jennifer Lichty, operations manager of The Union, to demonstrate an unofficial estimate of the number of students who had used the extended hours.

She found that as finals week approached, the numbers peaked at 90 students per night. SUAC determined the end of the semester was the time when students really used The Union late at night.

Keith Skogstad, assistant director of The Union, said funding the extra hours was a top concern. He said there are not enough funds to keep the building open two additional hours every night for the entire semester. However, as The Union managers have seen students’ need for The Union late at night, they feel it is more practical to extend the hours the last two weeks of the semester in preparation for finals.

Other options are also being explored. Tyler Luckhurst, the student manager of  operations and chair of SUAC, said Union managers are debating whether to leave part of The Union open on a regular basis until 2 a.m.

He said the north corridor is currently being considered a spot for late-night studiers. This area would include Weary Wil’s, the Hobo Day Gallery, and the lobby between the two. This would make restrooms available and still be in observance of the fire code, while ensuring students remain in a centralized area. Luckhurst thinks this area would provide a good environment for studying.

He said if this possibility happens, it won’t be until the fall.

The Students’ Association supports SUAC’s decision.

“The numbers don’t necessarily justify keeping the building open,” SA Vice President Anthony Sutton said. “That was SUAC’s recommendation, and I think that’s fine.”

SA President Mark York said in order to keep the building open during the extended hours, the expense totaled $12,000. He said there have been nights when no one has been in the building. He believes the managers are making the choice with The Union and students’ best interests in mind.

“As students, do we want our fee money spent here, or do we want it spent elsewhere?” York said.