In May 2009, Union Council decided to discontinue the design committee in preparation for the end of the design phase and the beginning of construction of the New South Campus Union (NSCU). Dan Cornelius, former vice president for project management, was a voting member on Council when this decision was made. I became vice president for project management on May 7 after the May Union Council meeting. Dan Cornelius left office knowing there would be no permanent iteration of the design committee for the remainder of the NSCU building project, and that the next year of the project was entering a new phase because construction had begun.
A plan to involve students over the summer in Furniture, Fixtures and Equipment (FF&E) selection was set at the May 18 Union Council Executive meeting. Plans included one midsummer meeting of an interim design committee to review decisions made to that point. This interim design committee never met because the FF&E process was postponed, as there were not enough students around during the summer to provide adequate input. Therefore, no FF&E selections were made this summer until more students could be involved. Furthermore, since coming into this position in May, I had never heard of the need or desire for a design committee in the fall as there was nothing left to design.
Cornelius is worried that without a design committee, there is no student involvement in the project, but that is patently false. Many students were asked to participate in the fall FF&E selection process. E-mails were sent to former design committee members and current Wisconsin Union Directorate (WUD) committee members. There were posts on the project Facebook page, Twitter and blog, along with two ""Chair Fairs"" where any student could provide feedback on the selections. The Chair Fair at Memorial Union Bash in August elicited over 500 responses from new students.
Cornelius sees the design committee as the end-all-be-all of student involvement. What he does not realize is that students have been adequately represented at all levels of the project. Hoofers President Paul Davidsaver is a student representative at core committee and construction meetings, which deal with the nuts and bolts of the project. Along with Paul and Union student employee Taralinda Gushue, I serve on the advance team which organizes operational planning decisions. This Saturday I conducted a retreat with 17 students to discuss how WUD will function in the NSCU.
Another component of the retreat was brainstorming how WUD can involve the broader student population in these discussions. We plan to hold public forums in the near future to achieve this. Another facet of student involvement is the Building Project Student Outreach Team that will begin promoting the project this week at Badger Bash. To this date, students have had and will continue to have control over every aspect of the project.
WUD Vice President
for Project Management