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University hopes to spark The New Stan State with innovative center
Student union pic
The University Student Union is hoping that the new University Student Center will be ready to open its doors in January or February of 2020. - photo by Photo Contributed

Members of the University Student Union are anticipating that a $52 million renovation plan for a state-of-the-art University Student Center, which is slated to open its doors in 2020, will not only provide necessary resources for academic success at the heart of the university, but also a source of campus pride for all students at Stanislaus State.

“‘The New Stan State’ project is a very exciting one and I can’t wait for the final product to be completed,” said University Student Union Board Chair Hailey Holm. “The one thing that Stan State is missing that sets us aside from other universities is that center of student life where all students feel welcome and want to spend their time at. The new University Student Center will provide this campus dynamic at Stan State.”

According to the University, the current USU, which was built in 1978, has many structural issues and does not provide for the needs of the growing and diverse student population. The USU Board of Directors recognized the need for major improvements and took action to improving the aging USU by starting “The New Stan State” campaign in October 2015. To fund the $52 million renovation plan, students voted in December 2015 to increase student fees by $209 a semester for the USU, effective fall 2019. All students paying the fee, including Stockton students, will have access to the services and facilities provided in the USU.

The university plans to vacate the current USU building this January before starting work on the new University Student Center in March 2018. Construction is slated for completion in November 2019 with the new University Center grand opening scheduled for January or February of 2020.

Envisioned by the USU as “the heart of the university,” the University Student Center will include the campus bookstore, making it more accessible to students, and the expansion of the current Warrior Grill, which will include various types of seating, large televisions, pool tables, darts and other fun amenities. The new and expanded grill will be a gathering place for the campus community as it is slated to be an ideal venue to watch sporting events, eat and improve the “out of class” experience for students.

The new facility will also include an event center, which will be made by renovating the current bookstore space and adding an additional 1,500 sq. ft. to the existing structure. Used for both formal and informal events, this center will be used by Associated Students Inc. and USU to host large scale events or for off-campus parties that reserve the space. The building will accommodate up to 1,070 people standing, 500 people seated lecture style, or 300 people seated banquet style.

The University Student Center will also include a Cross-Cultural Center, which will be funded by ASI to promote diversity, wellness and individuality. The space will serve students of all races, religions, sexual orientation, political affiliations, genders and nationalities. A mediation room will also be incorporated into the Cross-Cultural Center to provide students with a comfortable and welcoming space for religious or meditation purposes, as well as the Warrior Food Pantry, which provides non-perishable food and toiletries for students in need.

A student craft room is also included in the plans for the new University Student Center. The space, which is dedicated to student creativity and innovation, will be set up with tables, chairs, whiteboards and a variety of other crafting items. The student craft room can also be used for informal meetings, group work and other productive tasks.

Other project aspects include a lounge and study space, vendors, conference rooms, and the office of Student Leadership & Development.

The existing size of the USU is roughly 50,000 sq. ft. The new University Student Center will include 152,432 square feet of space, with enough lounge seating to accommodate 1,228 students and Warrior Grill seating enough for 410 students.

 The total cost of this renovation and expansion project is roughly $52 million. As per the projected budget, the associated bond financing will be paid in full 30 years after the facility opens.

“This building will be the heart of the campus and be a place to engage, empower and transforms our student body,” said Holm. “One’s college experience is much more than just in the classroom, it is important for every person to have that ‘out of class’ experience and this will be possible in the University Student Center with the many different amenities that will be offered in it. I know that this building will be full of life when it opens and be a place that all students want to spend their extra time at.”