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Thursday, March 07, 2013 - OU students, representatives inspired by tour of student unions
By Carin Inglis, media relations intern

Ohio State University's student union.
More than 20 Oakland University representatives recently traveled to Eastern Michigan University, Akron University, Bowling Green State University and Ohio State University to tour the student union buildings on campus. The trip was organized by Student Congress and members from administration, food service, housing and organizations such as WXOU and GSC attended.

The all-day trip served as an opportunity for student leaders and organization members to observe what they like and dislike about other schools’ student union buildings. These observations will aid in the planning for a potential expansion of the Oakland Center. At every stop, each of the representatives did an evaluation of the student union buildings. The evaluations will be combined into one large report to be presented to OU administration as a reference. 

“Though it is not likely the Oakland Center expansion will happen when we are at OU, or even in the next four years, this provides ground work,” said Samantha Wolf, OUSC president. “This allows the administration to know that we really need more space and will give future student leaders the chance to start advocating for it.”

The commuter room at Bowling Green University.
One goal in the expansion of the OC is to better accommodate student organizations on campus. The universities visited by OU students and faculty placed a greater emphasis on student organizations and offered more meeting spaces. 

“Expanding the student union space will provide organizations with an anchor, storage space and room for meetings,” said Jim Zentmeyer, director of university housing. “It also adds a higher level of legitimacy to the various organizations.”

Oakland Center director, Richard Fekel, also points out the lack of space in the center during peak hours of the day. 

“Around the noon hour, it’s common to see students sitting on the floor studying and eating lunch due to a lack of seating space. We have outgrown the food court and an expansion would alleviate overcrowding.”

Improvements may also be made to extra amenities provided for student enjoyment. Akron University featured an expanded game room with eight lanes of bowling and 14 pool tables. Akron, EMU and BGSU also offered a movie theater for students. One theater had 4 movies available and tickets were $1. Many students agreed that bowling would be a great weekend activity for on-campus residents.

Both Bowling Green and Ohio State had a student movie theater.


Other ideas for potential additions to the Oakland Center include a student union information center and a commuter room, complete with lockers, couches and a kitchen. Nearly all of the student centers visited also had a convenience store. An expansion to the Grizz Express would provide students with a full service store.

The last addition to the Oakland Center was in 2003 when a 30,000 square foot addition was constructed on the west side of the Oakland Center. Another expansion is likely on the horizon due to increased enrollment and a demand for more space. 

To learn more about what the representatives saw on the Student Union Building trip, call the OUSC office at (248) 370-4290.

Oakland University is a vibrant academic community with nearly 20,000 students and more than 265 academic degree programs. To learn more about programs, events, and achievements at OU, visit the news site at oakland.edu/newsatou and follow the news team on Twitter at @OaklandU_News
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