By Zach Thomas
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Students will play an integral role in the planning of "The Wildcat Center," the new title given to the proposed renovated Student Union, said members of the planning team.
Although the project is only in its early planning stages, ASUA, in conjunction with the Student Union Planning Team, is preparing for a series of campus awareness meetings to inform the student population of the upcoming changes and their impacts.
Over the next two weeks, ASUA undergraduate senator Gilbert Davidson and budget director Steven Romero will proposition residence halls and the Greek community for these informational meetings. The meetings will feature a multimedia presentation with opportunities for participant discussion and suggestions.
"Students have the connection to the parents and the community," Davidson said. "Their role is extremely important."
According to the planning committee report, Student Union financing will come from a variety of possible sources, including self-generated revenues, bond packages, commercial partnerships and potential student fees. The committee is also considering options like certificates of participation and the use of current Student Union business interest deposits. However, the total cost estimate will not be available until the architects return their report in March or April.
The ideal situation would be 1/3 from students, 1/3 from the bookstore and food service profits and 1/3 from other sources said Saundra Taylor, vice president for Student Affairs.
In conjunction with the ASUA campus meetings and the inception of a proposed Student Union Advisory Council, union planners hope to receive input and suggestions on the types of food, meeting places and other student services the renovated union will offer.
"There will be private sector businesses in the Union," said ASUA President Benjamin Driggs.
However, unlike Park Student Center, the contracts will most likely be on an individual basis rather than under an umbrella clause.
"Our goal is an increase in choice and quality of food services," Driggs said.
The planning committee is also studying the possibilities of ASUA Bookstore expansion and a complete renovation of the Union's north face.
"It's not a proper entrance," said Melissa Vito, dean of students and member of the planning committee. "It's so closed off."
Vito also stressed the importance of image in attracting events and speakers.
"From my perspective, I'd like to see more multipurpose rooms and programming space that look better," she said.
Initially constructed in 1951, the last addition to the Union facility was completed in 1971, when the student population was only 25,600 compared to the estimated 50,000 users today.
The planning team recently mailed requests for proposals to various architectural firms familiar with Union construction. Results are expected in this month.
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