Friday, January 27, 2006

Working progress...Union building re-development

AS many people will be aware, the Students’ Union building is undergoing major re-development. Students’ Union President, Ben Preston, say’s that at the end of it all we will end up with practically “a brand new Students’ Union building”.

The construction work will be carried out in a phased process and is scheduled for completion for the start of the next academic year, September 2006.

Considering this time scale there will be considerable disruption to particular services in the interim period. During refurbishment to the front foyer, in addition to restricted access to the building, via Elmwood Avenue, the shop has had to be temporarily relocated to the main corridor, along with the book shop which is now situated at the main Elmwood entrance. The situation is said to improve as time goes on and certain areas will become more accessible as the renovations to particular zones are completed.

In an interview with The Gown, Ben said that the new building would be “equipped with all the facilities needed” to enable the Students’ Union to “contribute a vital ingredient in the student experience at Queens”. These new facilities will include improved clubs and society services along with new meeting rooms, a coffee-house, additional space to “relax and chill” and also new commercial units. Although the new venture will facilitate additional enterprise and services, its main theme is to also modernise and develop existing services such as the Union shop. One student described the newly installed Elmwood entrance as “really modern” and “very colourful”.

When asked whether this represented a significant investment in the Students’ Union by the University Ben replied with “yes and no” and said that the “major portion of the redevelopment is paid for by the student’ through use of the union facilities.”

The refurbishment will therefore be paid back inadvertently by the student through the use of Union commercial services. This will enable students to play their part in investing in the facilities to cater for the next generation of undergraduates.

There are sections from within the University that see this re-development as part of the University restructuring debate. When Ben was asked whether the redevelopment of the union represented an attempt by the university to strengthen or weaken the union’s singular identity, he explained that it was “a difficult question to answer given the university has offered no clear statement regarding our (The Students’ Union) position within the commercial services directorate”. He concluded that “recent discussions are promising however.”

- What are your thoughts on the Union building re-development? What do you think of the building refurbushment so far? -


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