New Union expansion offers a fresh experience for students

After breaking ground in the Spring of 2012, the second phase of The Union expansion has been completed and is now open for students. 

Adding 20,000 square feet, 300 seats, a student engagement center and three new dining options to the building, the expansion helps to alleviate the uprise in students and use of The Union. After a few days use of the expansion, The Union staff has had a lot of feedback, some of which will help redesign for queuing lines and furniture.

“I didn’t hear any negative feedback,” said Director of The Union Jennifer Novotny. “Everything that isn’t cast in concrete is subject to change.”

After interviewing a panel of students, it was noted that dining options with extended hours were needed. The three new dining options include Chick-fil-A, Panda Express and Extreme Pita, and are reflecting The Union’s building hours, giving students later dining options to adapt to students’ schedules. The Panda Express hours of operation are 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. seven days a week. Extreme Pita will be open 11:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Chick-fil-A will be in operation Monday through Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. and on Fridays and Saturdays, 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Chick-fil-A is not open on Sundays because of a company-wide decision. 

Not only will students and faculty be able to experience new dining options on campus, but they can visit the Offices of Student Engagement along Main Street in The Union as well. A central office connects the offices of University Program Council, Greek Life and Students’ Association. Although the offices have been worked on for several months, the organizations were not able to move into their offices until just days before move-in weekend.

“We had so much stuff [when moving] and we didn’t know where to put it,” said UPC member Chelsea Molden.

The UPC office was relocated from Main Street to the second floor of The Union, during times of construction, and they appreciate being back on the main walk of The Union. 

“It’s pretty accessible and open to students, before it was kind of hidden,” said UPC member Jay Martinez.

After the completion of the expansion, staff and others using the new space have noted few issues.

“The only issue I would say we have run into with construction is that the kitchens are really warm and the flow of traffic,” Novtony said. “The overwhelming response has been extremely positive.”

Although the expansion has just been completed, planning support for a third phase expansion has been in the works for about a year. In the plans for the final expansion are moving student media to the main level of The Union and redeveloping and relocating the Multicultural Center to the main level as well.