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First changes to union concern UA community

By La Monica Everett-Haynes
Arizona Summer Wildcat
August 9, 1999
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"The fencing is annoying but it really doesn't make a big difference because it's probably necessary so people aren't walking through the construction site."

Meghann McPartlin, sophmore majoring in bussiness


"I think it's wonderful. I'm in favour of the new computer centre that will be under the mall. Renovation is an ongion thing that needs to be done."

Jerrilyn Blackman, systems librian at the Main Library


"I have no resentment. I see no problem. I used to meet students on the rotunda but I am sure whatever they replace it with will be great."

Dan Webb, editor, English professor, and lecturer.


"It's going to be better-- it's an inconvenience now but it's worth it. I just wonder if this is going to raise tuition."

Kazuyuki Tokunara, senior majoring in political science.

Arizona Summer Wildcat

A typical day at the UA includes a constant flow of thousands of busy students, faculty and staff who follow a well-practiced routine.

Changes and obstructions that interfere with that routine can cause irritation, and sometimes anger.

As the Memorial Student Union's demolition approaches, University of Arizona community members are reacting with both positive and negative feedback.

The range of concerns span from the amount of space the operation is going to take to what services will be permanently removed from the union.

The first major obstruction -- the protective fence surrounding much of the union -- has already impacted the campus

"These fences suck," said Mike Chandler, a finance junior. "This is not how I want to spend my next two years at the UA."

The rear parking lot and east wing of the union are currently surrounded, allowing access only on the south side of the building.

They were erected last Monday and will remain up for the next 18 months of construction. More fences will be posted later this month so construction of the Integrated Learning Center can begin on the east side of the UA Mall.

"The reason why we have to take up so much space is because we are going to demolish the east side of the Student Union," UA spokeswoman Sharon Kha said.

Although the fences will change configuration over the period of construction, they will always be there, she said.

"People are going to have to get used to it," said Celia Sepulveda, coordinator of community programs for the Dean of Students. "It's going to take a lot of flexibility and anticipation that something much better is going to come."

While some are concerned about having to walk further to get where they are going, others are more upset about the services previously held in the union that will either be relocated or removed.

Christina Cox, a Latin American studies junior, said she is not happy about the relocation.

"The fences are not that big of a deal and I don't mind the construction," she said. "It's annoying that they're taking away the Gallagher Theater."

Gilbert Davidson, assistant project manager for union renovation, said Gallagher Theater's programs will be relocated in the Social Sciences building, 1145 E. South Campus Drive.

"Student services will still be there in the (union) because the construction will be done in two phases," Davidson said.

Phase two will begin in December, 2000 at which point previous services will return to the union while the final phase is in effect.

Among other union services, Sam's Place has been relocated to the Heritage Lounge and pool tables are now in the union art gallery. Both the Cactus Lounge and Union Club will be eliminated until the new union is complete.

Hendalee Wilson, a senior majoring in MIS, said he was upset about the process.

"The union is the social heart of the U of A and people meet there for academic aspiration," he said

He said the Heritage Lounge was the meeting area for many black students, but fears the construction will change that tradition.

But supporters of the project maintained that the final outcome will be worth the inconvenience.

"I am absolutely convinced that the accepted plan is a brilliant one that will provide more meeting space, a better general environment and more bookstore space," said Jerrold Hogle, faculty chairman and an English professor. "The finished product of the new union will eventually be worth the temporary disruption and loss of space."