Union to conduct campus renovations for Fall
Director of the Union Dr. Charlie Potts presented three potential campus renovation projects to the Executive Board last Thursday. The projects seek to construct two new offices in the Mueller Center, demolish the W2SZ trailer which was used for the Amateur Radio Club, and renovate the Student Government Suite in the Union. According to Potts, the projects will cost between $100,000 to $110,000 in total and will be ready for the Fall semester, if approved.
The Mueller Center project will provide two new office spaces to Assistant Director of Campus Recreation and Wellness Lauren Arnoff and Assistant Director of Recreation and Outdoor Programs James Bradbury. The offices will be located in the area near the exercise room, which is currently covered up by black curtains. Potts said that the current office locations for Arnoff and Bradbury in the Armory are difficult for students to find. In contrast, the proposed offices in the Mueller Center are more visible and easier to locate. Constructing the offices is estimated to cost around $45,000.
Vice President for Rules and Special Projects Matt Zapken ’22 asked Potts what will happen to the old offices in the Armory if Arnoff and Bradbury move to the Mueller Center. Potts said that the old spaces will be kept as offices, but remarked that this was a topic for “broader discussion.”
Earlier this year, the Executive Board revoked office use from clubs residing in the Student Government Suite in order to conduct renovations. In the presentation, Potts gave a detailed rundown of potential changes, which include a glass-enclosed conference room on the left side of the suite, a dedicated alcove for the copier machine, additional lounge furniture, and removing the filing cabinets from the library to create more space. Potts also suggested that it was possible to remove the wall between two offices near the right of the alcove and transform the space into a small conference room.
The W2SZ trailer is located at the top of Sunset Terrace near the East Campus Athletic Village. The trailer is over 40 years old and was donated to W2SZ about 15 years ago. Recently, the club lost access to the trailer as it had been condemned. Potts said that the Union administration's plan was to demolish the trailer, remove the asphalt, and build a recreational space over the area.
Business Operations Committee Chairperson and graduate student Brian Anderson ’21 suggested that the Cycling Club may be interested in building a jump course after the space had been converted, due to the mountain bike trails nearby.
After the presentation, members of the E-Board discussed further ideas on the SGS renovation, which include ways to add and expand meeting rooms and the potential to join the Union’s external balcony directly with the suite.
During the meeting, Anderson said that July 2, which is the beginning of the next fiscal year, was an optimal time to begin the renovations. However, Class of 2023 Representative Ava Gallagher believed that the SGS renovation was too “unpredictable” to be ready by the Fall and that the Union should not start on this project. On the other hand, Gallagher said that the demolition of the trailer should be started “as soon as possible,” as the space can be set up for intramural sports before the Fall semester.
President of the Union Colleen Corrigan ’21 asked members of the Executive Board if they approved of the Mueller Center project, to which they gave overwhelming support. However, Gallagher noted that the current plan would make students walk through the gym space to get to the offices and wondered if a pathway could be constructed to avoid the gym. On a different note, Anderson mentioned that Bradbury did have an office in the Mueller Center at the beginning of the year, but moved back to the Armory as he “got so annoyed with the sound of the workout equipment.”
Finally, Corrigan fielded the E-Board for questions regarding the SGS renovation. Golden responded that there were a lot of differing opinions on how the suite could be designed and wanted to hold a formal discussion on the topic.
Also during the meeting, the Running Club requested an additional subsidy of $392.81 to send club member Roman Silen ’22 to the Boston Marathon. According to Silen, the marathon would be good publicity for the Institute and would be a step up from the local events the club has participated in. The first motion designated a new program for the club titled “Boston Marathon,” while the second motion proposed a budget reallocation to that program. Both motions passed 13-0-0 without discussion.
During the invitation to speak, Multicultural Leadership Committee Chairperson Aloni Jordan ’22 reported that there was a club conflict in Mother’s, where an organization attempted to use the space for singing practice while it was already booked by a different club. Jordan wondered if there was a dedicated space on campus for singing practice, as the conflict happens every other week.
Corrigan asked if the club had searched for alternatives. Jordan replied if it was possible for the E-Board to give the club an alternative directly. Zapken then added that the Executive Board had the power to reserve the space for them, “if [the E-Board] really wanted to.” Corrigan proceeded to mention that this would be an important topic for the upcoming Rathskeller renovations discussion.
In the final motion of the night, the Executive Board unanimously approved a motion to honor Jean Purtell, the operations coordinator for the Rensselaer Union, for over 20 years of service at RPI.