The Higher Education Coordinating Board voted Jan. 24 to approve construction on a new union at UNT.
- The university has outgrown the current union; remodeling is not feasible.
- Today’s students need and deserve new and more space for activities.
- Today’s students need and deserve the latest technology.
- A new union supports the university’s goal of attracting quality students.
- A new union will provide faculty and staff with facilities and technology to host conferences, professional seminars and events enhancing the academic reputation of UNT.
- A new union will be a legacy, a source of Green Pride for UNT Alumni. Students voted April 2 – 6, 2012, to approve a student fee increase up to $115 that will go into effect Fall 2014 for the construction of a renovated and expanded University Union.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is included in the University Union Building Master Plan?
The Project of the University Union will provide:
- New, state-of-the-art sustainable building practices throughout each element of the building infrastructure. This will eliminate the many environmental concerns that are currently facing the standing Union building.
- New and upgraded technology throughout the building, including reliable substructures (heating and air, water and sewer, etc), better wi-fi access, audio-visual equipment, etc.
- Expanded dining options uniquely-tailored to the needs of the campus community and designed with student voiced choices. This will provide for enhanced service, options, and seating space for our expanding campus population.
- Larger, more secure lounge and study spaces that will allow students to better focus or relax between classes. This will decrease the noise distractions as well as provide more options for students while they concentrate on classroom materials or take a break.
- Increased space for student organizations and study group meeting rooms, as well as expanded storage areas and office space for student activities.
- A better, more visible representation of Eagle spirit and tradition and the pride of the UNT campus.
The HECB said no before. What’s different now?
UNT collaborated with the HECB to answer questions and we are pleased at the result of the Jan. 24 vote. The new union will be good for students and the community. If you would like information on the board’s voting decisions, you will need to contact them. The HECB’s external relations office can be reached at 512-427-6111.
How many students voted to approve the new union fee?
In total 2,253 students voted on the Union fee referendum and 54 percent (1,220) voted in favor of the fee. In total, 3,376 students – or 10 percent of the student body –participated in voting for various items on the ballot, which included Student Government Association elections.
UNT raised tuition and room and board costs last year. Why doesn’t that pay for a new union?
Tuition at UNT covers costs for hiring and retaining top tier faculty and staff, classroom support and technology, research projects and university operations. It does not cover costs for new buildings. The fee increase students approved will cover costs related to building construction, facility maintenance, student programs, student events and UNT Union support and technology.
What is wrong with the current union?
The current union was built in the 1960s and was designed for a campus population of 17,000 students. UNT has about 36,000 students today, and the current union is at capacity. Over the years cosmetic changes and updates have been made to certain areas of the union, but the building has not undergone major renovations. Other problems include:
- The current building’s mechanical system needs replacement.
- The current building lacks adequate space for a campus moving toward 40,000 students.
- As construction costs and inflation continue to rise, the cost of major repairs to the current facility will exceed the cost of building a new facility.
- The current union’s dining area is roughly 35,000 square feet short of what’s needed by national standards. The Union dining area is too small to serve the campus community, and limits the ability to better serve students.
- Student organization space, student lounge space, and student meeting space also fail to meet national standards by thousands of square feet.
Will the new UNT Union be eco-friendly?
Yes. The new UNT Union will be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. The new UNT Union facility will be built on a sustainable site, will have water efficiency measures in place, will make use of natural light and energy, and will use renewable materials and resources.
When will the building be completed?
We expect the building to be open in 2015.
Where will students, faculty and staff in the current Union, Stovall Hall and Scoular Hall go while construction is ongoing?
Relocation information can be found online. Faculty, staff, students and administrators have been involved in discussions about the UNT Union Master Plan, and have dedicated time to serving on the Union Master Plan Committee. The committee has worked to ensure minimal disruption to academic programs throughout construction to the UNT Union. Students needs and program advancements are a priority in the planning process for long-term relocation.
How long will construction take?
A conservative estimate is 24 months. During this time, all programs and services that were housed in the UNT Union, including food, entertainment, student affairs offices, and retailers, will continue to operate in nearby locations convenient to students. No student jobs will be lost during this time. The current plan schedules construction to begin in June 2013 with an opening date of June 2015.
How does the fee increase work?
Students approved a fee increase that will be up to $115 that will begin in Fall 2014. This will bring the fee total to $165 per semester. By beginning the fee in 2014, one year prior to the opening of the renovated and expanded facility, students will be saving millions of dollars in interest. The fee covers a number of items, including programming and entertainment, operations, student services, meeting spaces, and maintenance to the facility.
When did students vote? Was information publicized about voting opportunities?
Students voted between April 2 – 6 (Monday – Friday), 2012. The Union Master Plan Committee hosted numerous events on campus to speak one-on-one with students about plans for the new UNT Union and to provide information on when voting took place. More than 9,000 students attended the events. The University provided voting information via social media channels to an audience of more than 50,000. Advertising appeared in student media with voting information and details on the Union Master Plan, and information was placed in numerous areas around the UNT Union for a year prior to the student vote.
We have a major parking problem on our campus and some of the classrooms on campus appear to be in worse condition. Shouldn't we focus on addressing those issues first?
Money to repair or build academic buildings on campus comes from a completely different fund. University budget dollars are not able to be spent on a Union master plan; however, student fees are currently responsible for covering and maintaining the costs of operating the Union facility. The University Master Plan does address the parking problem on campus, and in conjunction with a new rail system through the City of Denton we are confident that these issues will be appropriately addressed. These crucial upgrades will be funded by parking and transportation fees.
I hardly ever use the University Union. Why should I be responsible for paying for it?
The Union is widely known as the center of the campus community. As the Union does support numerous divisions on campus, we have always played a vital role in each student's educational experience. Because we see more than 17,000 people per day, ¼ of which are visitors, the Union is directly related to enrollment recruitment and retention. A new Union would not only improve the quality of your academic career, add to UNT's reputation and prestige, but will also add immeasurable value to your degree.
Will the Master Plan be compliant with ADA (American Disabilities Act) standards?
How have students been involved in the development of the University Union Building Master Plan project?
From the very beginning, the Union development team has understood the importance of giving students an opportunity to have a voice in every part of the decision process. Students held prominent positions on committees, participated on focus groups and open forums, and interacted at information sessions throughout the year.
Why can't my tuition pay for the Union Master Plan?
Tuition dollars are only allotted to pay for certain budget items for the University which does not include facilities like the University Union. The Union is paid for with a separate fee that is locked at an increase of $1 per year, hardly enough to cover the rise in inflation. A phased-in fee increase would be set aside specifically for the Master Plan project.
What will the fee increase be used for?
The fee will be used for all of the expenses of the project and then to pay the debt services on the bonds that will need to be purchased prior to the construction process commencing. The master planning team has done extensive benchmarking to target a fee range that would most benefit the students and the project while being fiscally responsible to the needs of the campus community.
Should we expect more fee increases in the future to cover the cost of the Master Plan?
Why should I support this Master Plan project if I will be gone before it is complete?
Just like in 2003, students voted to begin funding the construction of the new Pohl Recreation Center when few would actually be on campus and able to use the facility. These students invested into the future of UNT, so students like yourself would be able to enjoy a nice new facility that is able to accommodate and serve the student population well. Their contribution to the campus is seen by nearly 40% of the campus population every day. The Union facility serves almost 50% of the student population on a daily basis. This is your opportunity to give back to the future students at UNT. Today UNT students can take pleasure in knowing that a new union would mean for them:
- ADMIRATION : Bringing recognition and admiration to your degree from UNT by attracting the very best and brightest in students and faculty.
- SUPPORT : Opportunities to provide vital support systems that the Union has been unable to delivery because of lack of space.
- EXPANSION : More space to connect, eat, study, relax, reflect, and be a part of the campus at UNT.
- PRIDE : Centralized home for UNT spirit and tradition, a home for the vibrant history and diverse community at UNT.
- LEGACY : Leaving your mark on history at UNT. Make a change for the future.