Student Union scheduled to break ground in May


Photographs courtesy of Destiney Boyd

Tamarra Newbern, News Reporter

According to university officials, ground will be breaking this upcoming May for the beginning construction phase of the Student Union. The $21.75 million facility will be the first-ever student union on the UIS campus.

Chancellor Susan Koch, in a March 10 interview, said, “A subcommittee of the board gave their final approval to the project this past Monday so we will be breaking ground in May.”

The campus was founded in 1969 as Sangamon State University and then became UIS in 1995. Since then, students have had concerns about not having a sense of community within the campus amongst students.

Indeed there are spaces on campus for events and social gatherings, such as the colonnade, Stars Lounge, PAC Food Emporium/Atrium, and Capitol Perks.

However, proponents of the Student Union argue that the building will be all of these spaces combined to have an actual community growth center on the UIS campus.

With a student population of approximately 5,400, it can be seen as a beneficial building for students to socialize, study, and relax.

Exactly when the Student Union will be completed is not entirely certain; however, according to UIS Director of Construction Chuck Coderko in the Oct. 21, 2015 edition of The Journal, the project is expected to take up to 18 months.

Koch added, “We’re hoping they’re going to just build that as fast as they can, and of course you know weather will be a determining factor in terms of how quickly they can get it built.”

After the University of Illinois Board of Trustees gave approval for project and design, Koch and other UIS officials made efforts to attract private donations.

“Fundraising has been going just extremely well, which is the reason why this is moving forward. You need to remember this is not a state project so the budget crisis […] has absolutely nothing to do with this project,” Koch said.

So far, $5.3 million in donations has been raised, while campus funds and fees from students will cover much of the remainder of the project.

According to Koch, Williams Brothers Construction Co., Inc. will lead the construction of the Student Union.

“Williams Brother’s Construction Company from Peoria is the general contractor, and they have been selected and approved […] there are many, many other sub-contractors underneath,” Koch said.

Students on campus seem to be either happy or upset about the future new addition of the Student Union to the campus.

Shaina Humphrey, a freshman majoring in legal studies, said, “I heard it was supposed to be done already for the upperclassmen. So I am indifferent. In 2018, that would be my junior year and the way it hasn’t been built yet could still be that way.”

Andrew Schwiebert, a sophomore and liberal studies major, questioned what other initiatives could have been funded instead of the Student Union.

Schwiebert stated, “What else could they have spent the money on besides the Student Union? I would like to see students’ reactions to a list of options. If all these different places are basically going to be combined into one, will the old side of campus be renovated?”

Conversely, Alicia Bryant, a senior majoring in social work, is optimistic for how the Student Union will affect the future of the university.

Bryant said, “I am very excited for future UIS students. I feel that it will bring much more prospect for UIS.”

Junior Erik Motyll, a political science and legal studies major, said, “I’m happy that it’s being built, but I am disappointed that I won’t be able to see it. They made it seem that it was going to be done by my senior year.”