Report shows union growth needed

Tammie Tamara

Tammie TamaraSection Editor

University officials and student leaders will submit their second report on a student union expansion in mid-November, then present it to the South Dakota Board of Regents in December.

The second report includes comparisons with student unions at the five other state institutions and at four other regional institutions of similar sized campus, said Kathy Lusk, director of University Student Union activities. She is also coordinator of the expansion project.

“Out of South Dakota schools, we have one of the smallest square-footage student unions,” Lusk said.

The regional institutions had unions that were 50 to 100 percent larger than SDSU’s.

The building was built for 5,000 students with 100,000 square feet. With fall enrollment at 9,952, the student population has increased 98 percent since the building was built, she said.

Approval by the board would mean advancement to the next phase: meeting with the architect, making final drawings and deciding exactly how much footage will be added.

Funding for the expansion, which is not to exceed $8 million, will come from student fees and unconfirmed outside sources, Lusk said.

Students’ Association is gathering signatures for student support of the project and working to make it affordable for students. SA President Dan Hansen could not be reached for comment.

The second report will also include information from the first report submitted to the board last June. The first report included usage information, focus group findings from organizations that use the union, and survey results of students, faculty and staff.

The key issues targeted in the report were increased space for the multi-purpose rooms like the Volstorff Ballroom, for dining, for meeting rooms, for the bookstore and for student lounge resource space, Lusk said.

The growing demands on union space have been a challenge, Lusk said.

“It’s really tough,” she said. “We do our best to shuffle and do quick turnarounds to make things happen. The building needs to be expanded just to stay with the increasing needs of the campus.”

Lack of space means denying organizations’ requests for space for banquets or other events. “We’re getting to the point of not being able to serve them,” she said. “No one really wants to take their college programs off campus.”

It will be several years before the expansion is completed, but a lot of people are working hard now, she said.