Union expansion part of ongoing growth

Holly Leske

As plans for the Student Union expansion are being released, students have more than enough to look forward to concerning dining and student support offices.

In the addition scheduled for completion August 2013, three new dining options will be located on the main level: Chick-fil-A, Panda Express and Extreme Pita. This will provide more options for students, faculty and visitors. Three hundred fifty seats will also be added to accommodate the three restaurants and the main street of The Union could be expanded as well. Overall, 20,000 square feet will be added on at a cost of $8.3 million.

The plan currently maps out three storefronts arranged in a row in food-court fashion with seating that fans out in front, similar to how the Market is now set up.

“You can get something at Chick-fil-A and your friend can get something at Einstein’s and then you can eat in the Market,” said Keith Skogstad, assistant director of the Student Union. “That’s the goal of The Union.”

Each store will have its own distinct front, furniture and carpet style, assuring customers get a taste of each brand’s individual style. Extra booths and more fireplaces will also be added to the seating, as well as proposed ceiling features in order to accent the space. This will all be surrounded by floor to ceiling windows for students to view the east side of campus as they enjoy their meals.

The goal of the expansion is to create more space for dining or other student activities. Novotny said the space will be multi-purpose because that is what students need the most.

“The way we’re designing it, it shouldn’t just be where you eat, it should be where you hang out, it should be where you study, maybe even meet with small groups,” Novotny said.

Although these plans have been released, the final details on the expansion are still being debated, with even the design of the building being reworked sporadically.

“We really don’t have any finishes picked out to what it’s going to look like,” Skogstad said.

Despite the uncertainty of the space’s specific designs, overwhelming praise for the new options, as well as more seating for The Union, excites SDSU students.

Directors overlooking the expansion like Skogstad and Novotny are more than certain students will respond just as positively once they are able to use the space. Two student surveys were heavily relied upon when designing the additions, one focusing on the type of atmosphere students wanted and the other looking at the kinds of foods students wanted to eat. The Student Union Activities Council, a Union expansion team and the Students’ Association all helped overview the process of

“We felt pretty confident we did a lot of assessing of [dining options],” Novotny said. “It’s a nice balance of fun, food and healthier options.”

The new union expansion covers more than just dining, however, and includes a shift of offices on mainstreet as well as a recreation of the student activities space to make an office of Student Engagement. A large paradigm shift to be included in the expansions will include working more closely with Academic and Student Affairs to create more models for student success.

That shift includes creating a Career Development office centralized in the Union so that incoming freshmen, as well graduating seniors, can have direct access to building their careers from day one at SDSU. While the exact role of the Career Development office has yet to be determined, Novotny says it’s important to make career development a ‘top-of-mind’ topic for students.

“It’s a pretty small financial piece compared to the dining,” she said. “But it’s still very important to have it in the middle of the building.”

New details on the space will continue to be released as construction begins in the spring. Once construction begins students will also be able to approach construction site signs and scan QR codes for more information on the new restaurant’s menus and brand backgrounds.