Project involves students

Within the next two years, Florida A&M University will be getting a new student union.

Morris Hawkins, Coordinator of Accounting for Florida A&M University’s Student Government Association in the division of student affairs and FAMU alum, initiated the new union.

“Our current student union is not really service friendly to students,” Hawkins said. “Instead of renovations being made to the current union, an entire new building will be constructed. Once the development of the union begins, it will take approximately five years until it is complete.”

A location has yet to be chosen. Hawkins said he will give students the opportunity to take part in the construction.

“Let students design (the union),” Hawkins said.

To ensure student satisfaction, Hawkins said students will be involved in multiple aspects of the project. He wants students to work along side administrators.

Megan Caldwell, a fourth-year public relations student, likes the idea of getting students involved in the process.

“I think it’s a wonderful thing that the students are a drive in this project,” Caldwell said.

Administrators said even though they will have the final say, students will still be able to provide their input.

“To know that you were involved in a project that was geared towards you is a great feeling,” said Othniel Etienne, 24, a FAMU grad architecture alum from Miami.

Students will be recruited to help with landscaping, designing the building and marketing. Caldwell said engaging students in the process aids in the college experience.

“College is suppose to be able to teach how to learn your craft, and what better way to learn the craft then actually being apart of something that is bettering our campus,” Caldwell said.

Last year during the spring elections for the SGA, a referendum was placed on the ballot. The referendum asked if students would like to have a new student union.

After all the votes were tallied, it was made very clear that students really wanted a new one.

Etienne said the set shouldn’t be the only alternative for students, especially in inclement weather.

“Campus life that surrounded the Orange Room kind of died when it closed. Now the only thing students really have to hang out at is The Set,” Etienne said.

Hawkins said a new union is necessary for students to balance out campus life.

“A union is supposed to be where students can get away from academics,” Hawkins said.

He compared FAMU’s union to unions at other schools such as Florida State University and the University of Florida.

“These schools have a lot of activities going on, when all we really have is a bowling alley and TV’s,” Hawkins said.

Etienne said he attended UF for undergrad and also compared the two unions.

“UF’s union was focused primarily on catering to students by providing things that they needed,” Etienne said. “It had technology, food, and areas designated for studying, meetings and practices.”

The entire project will cost between two and $5 million, according to Hawkins. It will be financed with money received from sponsorships and grants, and private and corporate loans.

Hawkins said the project will not be successful without the students.

“The project can go nowhere without the students,” Hawkins said. “The students have spoken.”