Jan 25, 2016 | Atlanta, GA
The Student Center is an integral part of all Yellow Jackets’ Georgia Tech experience — from their first moments as students during FASET orientation to their last as graduates during the President’s Graduation Celebration. For more than 40 years, the Student Center has been the central gathering place for the campus community where students, faculty, staff, and alumni gather for meetings, events, services, and fun.
But after several decades of 24/7 use, the time has come for a much-needed expansion and renovation. Here are a few reasons why:
- The original building, completed in 1970, was designed for a campus of 7,000 students. Throughout the 1990s, several additions were built to accommodate the growing student population, which then reached 16,000. Now, with 23,000 students and 7,000 faculty and staff members, the building's space is far short of what is needed.
- About 17,000 people walk through the building every day.
- The building had 10,297 room reservations in 2015 alone.
- The national standard for student center space is 10 square feet per student, but the Georgia Tech Student Center has just 6.5 square feet per student.
- The Student Center team conducts more than 100 programs each year for the campus community — in addition to the hundreds of other campus events hosted within building.
- The building’s mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems are original, and well beyond the normal life expectancy.
- The Student Center contains just six office spaces to support more than 400 student organizations on campus.
“Given the current usage and consequential wear and tear on the Student Center, it's time to not just renovate or expand the building, but also to think innovatively about how we can provide the essential services this campus needs in a reimagined space; hence, the campaign to re(in)novate the Student Center,” says Samantha Holloway, student chair of the Student Center Expansion Committee. “The Student Center team already provides the best programs and services on campus; it is exciting to imagine what they could do in a high-caliber facility.”
Over the past two years, the Student Center has polled and talked with students about what the role of a new building should be, and how they'd like to see the building renovated. The research conducted shows that Georgia Tech students need more opportunities and places to gather, recharge themselves, build friendships, collaborate with one another, and grow as involved leaders. The research also exposed the need to do more to take advantage of outdoor spaces, with services and facilities that create a “front porch feel” and leverage Tech Green.
“Students have expressed these needs several times over the past few years,” says Interim Director of the Student Center Lindsay Bryant. “Meeting the needs of our diverse and extraordinary student body means finding an innovative approach to facility space and services, and Georgia Tech has a tremendous opportunity to create the next great hub for campus community life.”
The first step in moving the Student Center project forward is to secure funding. Last week, the Student Government Association approved a resolution allowing the Student Center to hold a student body-wide vote to implement a new fee to fund part of the project. That fee would cover 50 percent of the project’s proposed budget, with the remaining funds coming from the Institute, Auxiliary Services, and private donors.
“This type of funding scenario is not uncommon for projects like this,” said Bryant. “The majority of student center expansions and renovations within the University System of Georgia are funded, at least in part, by students.”
The proposed fee would not exceed $85 per semester and would be implemented once the new facilities are open for student use. Although this means that the students voting on the fee will not necessarily be the ones paying it or benefitting from the new facility as students, it is still important that the student body participates in the vote.
“Nothing will catalyze this project like widespread student support,“ Holloway says. “Students like me who vote for the fee will be able to draw a sense of pride as alumni visiting the new facility, knowing we were instrumental in bringing this much-needed change to campus.”
With the announcement of the approved referendum, the Student Center will now begin the re(in)novation campaign of weekly events and activities to engage the student body in the project, with the student vote happening from March 9–16. Additionally, weekly Behind-the-Scenes Tours of the building are being offered to the entire campus community to demonstrate firsthand some of the critical needs of the facility. The 45-minute tours depart from the Information Desk, located on the second floor, Tuesdays at 11:10 a.m.
Anyone interested in finding out more or getting involved in the project is encouraged to visit www.reinnovation.studentcenter.gatech.edu.