Union needs overhaul - and fast

The Student Union at a university should be the centerpiece and gathering place for students at the university. Unfortunately, at the University of Arizona, the Union is neither. With its lackluster appearance, musty smell, and lack of choices for eating, the Union is not used to its potential, nor is it a gathering place for the students.

Since my freshman year (in 1990) at the University of Arizona, I have heard promises that the Student Union would be renovated or rebuilt. Sure, this is a long and lengthy process, but it seems that the University administration is more concerned with the ir pet projects than with something that would benefit the students. For example, instead of sinking tons of money into the big IIF cave - I mean building - the administration could give the money to the Union.

Back in the good old days of 1992, when Domino's was put into the Union, plans were outlined to renovate Louie's Lower Level into a food court. Offers went out to area restaurants and national chains soliciting bids. Too bad the costs to renovate Louie's were astronomical and outweighed the benefits. Another great idea killed by the high cost of renovations, which Dan Adams, director of the Student Union, says now stands at $15 million - just to bring the building up to safety code compliance.

Right now, the Student Union is waiting for a report to come back which details the more feasible and cost effective plan - renovation or rebuilding. The Union is at the point where they have to do something, and they can't wait much longer. When the repo rt comes back, the Union is supposed to start the process. However, because I am such a nice guy, I am going to offer my services to the Union and give them my ideas of renovation and/or rebuilding. Since it does not look like the university is going to h elp with the money, it is my opinion that it's time to bring an expert in. It is time to contact Jerry Colangelo, the man who built America West Arena and is building BOB - the Bank One Ballpark. Here's a man who can bring in the big name sponsors and sti ll get taxpayer money to build his stadiums. And if he can build a huge stadium, think about how fast he could build a weasely little Union!

Just think about it: the Bank of America Student Union at the University of Arizona. Or how about the Wells Fargo Student Union? Close your eyes for a few minutes and imagine a retractable roof, a couple atriums, a small indoor park, a few restaurants to go along with the new and enlarged food court, and new huge classrooms, conference rooms, and ballrooms. We don't have to stop there, though. We could also put in a few shops to grab more people. How about the UA Gap or the UA J. Crew? Instead of a Union, we could become a mini-mall. Of course, we would also have a large, fully functional bank in the Union, but that's to be expected.

The University of Arizona would be the envy of the Pac-10 and the nation's universities! If we do go with a major bank sponsor, I'm leaning towards Wells Fargo. They have three pluses going for them: the cheesy Southwest tie-in with their logo (the horses and wagon), their emergence into the Arizona market, and their CEO is a UA alum! C'mon, the man is a former Wildcat, must have loyalty to the school, and has bucks galore!

But, if the Union doesn't want to go the route of the bank sponsor, I have a couple of other ideas. Since the University already has a history of naming buildings after men with questionable pasts and possible ties to the seedy underworld, such as the Mar ley building (which is named after Kemper Marley, the man mentioned but never implicated in the murder of Arizona Republic reporter Don Bolles), then we should petition John Gotti to give the money and be the proud owners of the John Gotti Student Union a nd School of Importing and Exporting. However, my favorite idea is the J. Fife Symington III Student Union and Center for Ethical Studies (bars on windows are optional). I realize that Gov. Symington himself wouldn't be able to pay for the rebuilding pro ject, but it would be a nice 'parting' gift from his wife, Ann. And as we all know, she's the one with the money in the family.

I hope the Student Union takes my suggestions seriously. One favor to ask, though. Since I have a propensity for the Union to rebuild, could I be the one to press the button to set off the dynamite? Also, I would like a plaque thanking me, but we can disc uss that later ....

Jeremy Pepper is a philosophy senior. His column appears every week.