Safety violations may threaten Union

By Melanie Klein
Arizona Daily Wildcat
August 26, 1996

The Memorial Student Union has racked up 104 safety violations since March while waiting for a recommendation of renovation or demolition.

The Union has received numerous written warnings from the Tucson Fire Department for blocked hallways, insufficient fire exits and fire safety violations because of the building's deterioration, said Dan Adams, director of the Student Union.

"The fire marshal could come in any time and shut the Union down if we don't comply with the warnings," said Undergraduate Senate President Gilbert Davidson.

Adams said the Union is complying with the warnings and is trying to keep the building going until its fate is decided. The decision on whether the Union will be renovated or destroyed and rebuilt is expected sometime in September.

Adams said the Union has been given a certain amount of time to correct the safety violations before portions of the building are deemed unusable.

About two-thirds of the safety violations, like adding a fire exit near Room 256, have been corrected, he said.

Associated Students President Rhonda Wilson said the Memorial Student Union is not given priority on campus, despite the obvious attention it needs.

"Renovating the Student Union is necessary just to bring it up to safety codes," Wilson said at a meeting of the Arizona Board of Regents last week. "In my opinion, the Student Union renovation is not a priority (to others on campus)," she said.

Adams, however, insisted that the Union is supported by the campus community.

"There is no question that there is extreme support for the Student Union by the students and top-level administration," he said.

Wilson, on the other hand, said there is not enough emphasis on the Student Union's needs when the administration is beginning new building projects like the Integrated Instructional Facility.

The IIF is an underground site designed for first-year students. The proposed site is under the University of Arizona Mall.

The regents seemed to acknowledge Wilson's concerns last week by passing a multiyear, $245.4 million bonding plan for all three state universities with the provision that the money be used to renovate new buildings.

The UA was appropriated $90 million in bonds. For the 1997 fiscal year, $36 million is allocated for the IIF and Agriculture Research Complex. In 1998, $25 million is slated specifically for the Student Union.

According to Wilson, the board stated it would not approve any new building projects until all three state universities re-prioritize their expansion goals and become more in-line with the students.

"This is a very good step for the students," said Davidson, who wrote a statement to the regents about the need to concentrate on the Student Union.

"This is one of the few times that student government has made an on-the-spot impact," he said.