Improvements to University Center have unclear future

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When seeking a place of higher education, most students look for a campus that is technologically advanced and has state-of-the-art surroundings that are comfortable and accessible.

“Students are usually swift to judge a campus and they solely rely on their first impressions to be the judge, regardless of the professors or educational components,” said Director of University Center and Student Activities Steve Klein.

Looking at the campus, one finds an up-to-date library and music department, but can the same be said about the residence halls and the heart of campus, the University Center, otherwise known as Washburn Hall.

“Students want a place where they can have a home away from home, with comfort, updated technology and a place to relax and study outside their dorm rooms,” said Klein.

To be fair, residence halls haven’t had the same fundraising. The Heart of Oak campaign was a project to raise money to build what is now the new library and remodel the UC.

Through the campaign, the library became the main focus. It has provided students with a 24-hour study room, group study rooms, community computers and printers, conference rooms, study tables and copy machines.

The UC has been said to be dated and is not a highlight of the campus when potential students visit the campus, according to Klein. Built in 1963, the UC was built for 1,000 students. Today, Pacific has more than doubled that number.

According to Klein, another effort was made in 2008 to review the remodel of the UC. A committee of students, staff and faculty was formed to come up with a plan, but the economy took a turn for the worse and it was difficult to find the funds for this project.

“The UC still serves the students and Forest Grove,” said Klein. “It is still vibrant, but it could be so much more.”

In the 2006-2007 academic year, the UC was open 24 hours, but with theft and safety becoming a problem, the university began to lock the UC at night.

“We are looking to make the UC available to students 24 hours a day again, but with more safety precautions,” said Klein. No ideas or plans have been officially released yet.

There are many groups and services that operate out of the UC, such as Resident Life, Aramark, the PIC, Boxer Bistro, student activities, RHA, CASSS, Boxer Radio, the writing resource center and mail services.

“With the lack of space, it is difficult for these services to expand in the future,” said Klein.

However, things are more complex according to Klein.  “Being built in the 1960s, there was asbestos built into the floors, ceilings and possibly even in the walls, which makes it a tough task to figure out the safest way to figure out a remodel strategy.”

With the obstacles ahead, the future of the UC is unknown, and will only become clear as time passes.


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