Staff editorial: U.C. not used correctly

NW Staff

A description of the University Center (U.C.) on Northern’s Web site states: “The U.C. is your link to all the resources available on campus.” This is true in a number of ways: it is home to our bookstore, cafeteria, student government, campus bank and many other offices important to our time here at NMU. The one thing you won’t see, however, is a building buzzing with student activity, the hallmark of any student union.

A student union is supposed to be a building on a college campus with facilities for social and organizational activities. It is obvious that this is what the U.C. had some intention of being, but fails to do so. Besides occasional entertaining activities, there is not enough done to draw students to the building. It is more so used for community members, and it has long been a problem that the needs of community organizations are met before those of student organizations. Students rarely have priority for getting room space, most likely because other sources bring in more money.

We acknowledge the fact that the U.C. is a major moneymaking opportunity for the university, but if we’re going to make a place for students, we should be doing just that. And it should be separate from what the U.C is now – a glorified conference center.

The location of the building is also an issue. While a student union is often centrally placed on a campus, the U.C. is located on the outskirts, seemingly closer to Marquette General Hospital than any other student oriented building on campus. In order to have a proper functioning student union, a new central location would have to be decided.

While plans for a student union are still on hold, recently the issue has become more pressing. Over the past semester, parking at the U.C. for the student employees who work there has become an issue. Community events often fill up the spaces and students have been inundated with tickets. A student union with better parking options would help alleviate these problems.

Right now, places like Starbucks and the Hedgcock building are more popular congregating spots for students. These places are not good enough, because they are not made to be the sole social gathering locations on campus. The purpose of the University Center or any student union should focus on the students. Students need their own space, not one we have to share or not one we have to wait in line to use. It’s really time redefine the focus of the U.C. or create a new and improved student union.