Construction ads aid confused students
Entering the 1999-2000 academic year, UA administrators knew they would be presenting students and faculty with a number of changes.
Most notably are two campus construction sites - renovations to the Memorial Student Union and construction of the Integrated Learning Center - that have forced pedestrians and bicyclists to alter their routes around the university.
Realizing the chance of mass confusion, University of Arizona officials have launched an agressive advertising campaign to eliminate any uncertainty about where students can and cannot go.
Dan Adams, director of the Student Union, said part of the advertising blitz was necessary to ensure students, faculty and UA visitors knew the Student Union and the U of A Bookstore were still open.
"We couldn't afford people guessing whether or not we were open," Adams said.
Beginning last week, signs began appearing on the chain-link fences that surround the east wing of the building. Signs also appear on many of the fences that engulf the construction just north of the Student Union.
One of the signs displays a picture of what the new union will look like. The sign reads, "Our future home is taking shape while we keep the Union and Bookstore services open."
By the time the renovations to the union are complete, the university could spend as much as $20,000 on union and bookstore signs, Adams said.
He added that the signs are also necessary for safety issues.
"People are beginning to understand that we are serious about keeping people out of the construction sites," Adams said.
Gilbert Davidson, assistant projects manager for the Student Union renovations, said the university has budgeted an additional $30,000 for other communications activities related to the construction. These activities include newspaper advertisements, informational banners and other items that contain the official UA construction slogan: "A New U."
Davidson said the university is unique in its decision to include funds for a construction advertising campaign.
"Most construction budgets do not include a communications effort," he said.
After receiving the idea for the slogan from a communications class, the Communications Committee developed the layout for the logo, which is similar to a construction warning sign with its yellow color and diamond shape.
In order to give students access to breaking updates, UA officials included the construction website (http://uaconstruction.opi.arizona.edu) and a hotline (621-NEWU), on the banners.
Other construction-related signs around campus include several maps that outline the desired flow for pedestrian and bicycle traffic. These signs are located across the campus, including the east and west sides of the Administration building.
Another purpose of the advertisement is to prevent students from feeling alienated by the ongoing construction process, Davidson said.
"We wanted to involve students in the construction process," he said.
Christopher Arrowood, an undeclared sophomore, said the directional signs are an indication that the UA is making an attempt to help students find their way around campus.
It has not, however, completely eliminated the confusion, he said.
"I think they are (making a good effort), but the construction kind-of makes getting around campus a lot harder," the 20-year-old said.
Student Union renovations are scheduled to be completed in July 2002.