The grand opening of the remodeled Setzer Student Center will take place at 12:30 p.m., April 12. The renovated building features new media rooms, a new ballroom, various student organization offices and workspaces, as well as a food court and lounging areas.
The overall structure of the building is the same — some wings were taken out and others were added, but the previous foundation remains. In addition to the inside of the building, the landscaping outside has been redone, including the quad which stretches from the front of the SSC to Wimberly.
“We will have additional outdoor seating for students to have more quiet space to come out and read a book or drink a nice cup of coffee from Starbucks,” Terry Mena, associate vice president of student engagement and dean of students said. “There will be a decking area which will sit above the ground so people can step onto it and be able to sit in the seating area that’s going to be there.”
“This will be a quick option for students to pick up a sandwich, a salad, or coffee,” Mena said.Inside to the right of the front entrance of the building is a new grab-and-go outlet, similar to the Outtakes Market Place, next to the dining hall.
Next to the grab-and-go will be the Barnes & Noble Bookstore, which has been reduced in perimeter, but with an increase in floor space.
“The new window front for the bookstore looks as if you were at the mall,” Mena said. “The storefront will provide the bookstore new marketing opportunities to make it look more professional.”
Previously, there was a staircase in the center of the building, which has been removed in order to create a better walkway for students.
“There is a straight shot from the south end to the north end of the SSC — there was a staircase that was in a dangerous location campus wide, like those alerting students of campus closures and such.
“The walls have been redone with wood paneling in order to bring the natural colors in from the quad.”
More stalls were added to both the men’s and women’s bathrooms. There is also a separate bathroom for transgender students with a singular stall, who may use it upon request. There is also a room where parents can feed their children — women may use the room to breastfeed, or men may use it to feed their children privately.
“All of the plumbing has been redone in the building,” Mena said. “Before, the men’s restroom only had two stalls — now it has 12, including urinals and accessible disability stalls. The women’s restroom went from six stalls to 12 as well, so it’ll be much more functional.”
The new SSC will feature triple the amount of media rooms, which students and organizations can request at no charge for meetings and events.
“On the first level, there’s about eight media rooms now, whereas before there were only six,” Mena said. “On the second level, there’s another six or seven more, bringing the total number to around 16 to 18 rooms.
“Student organizations can schedule these rooms through OrgSync. They are free because the students are already paying for it through the special charge on their accounts. If there is a special event that requires a set up different than the preset or additional audio/ visual technology, then there will be a charge.
“We are really trying to maximize the usage of technology in this building. We added outside sound equipment for student organizations, and the wifi connection is much better.”
One of the main developments of the SSC is the new food court, located in the northwest portion of the building, which will feature Jason’s Deli, Panda Express and Chick-fil-A.
“This area used to be the ballroom,” Mena said. “It was not functional most of the time because it was too small.
Now, we have the food court with a lot of seating, plus there will be a seating area right outside in the courtyard.
There is also a gaming room off of the food court where groups can request the room for gaming tournaments and such.In the back of the food court, (underneath the second-floor balcony) there will be more seating with places for students to plug in their phones.”
“It’ll be a free gaming area where students can bring their own PlayStation or Xbox, and hook them up to the preset monitors,” Mena said.
The new ballroom is more than 3,000 sq. ft., and can be divided into two sections, Mena said.
“The flooring in (the ballroom) is multi-functional because one night you can have a large banquet that can sit up to 386 people, and the very next day it can be flipped to a skating rink,” he said.
The SGA, CAB, Greek Life, Setzer Student Center Administration, vice president of student engagement and the office for the dean of students will be on the second level of the SSC full-time.
“In addition to the offices, there will also be a student organization workspace that will have at least five rows of work stations with computer terminals and phone line for student organizations to utilize,” Mena said. “There will also be lockers lining the walls which students can rent for their organizations, and a storage room for organizations to store materials and such.”
While Hurricane Harvey and unusual winter weather hindered progression on the SSC, Mena said that the opening will happen right on schedule, and under budget.
“We anticipated an opening for Spring 2018, so that went according to plan,” he said. “I know the students are anxious — I think this will be a great development to the campus and I know people will enjoy it.”
Story by Olivia Malick, UP staff writer