Vote on union expansion begins

By The Mercury

K-State students began voting Wednesday on a proposed $25 million renovation and expansion plan for the K-State Student Union.

The proposal calls for new southwest and east entrances, a central elevator serving all floors, expanded study and hang-out areas, and improved meeting, retail, dining and recreation areas.

If approved, it would be funded by a $20 increase in the student privilege fee, beginning in fall 2014 semester and continuing for 30 years.

Construction could begin as soon as the summer of 2014. The work would be done in phases, and a timeline for completion will be based on the architect’s final plans.

An online election began at 8 a.m. Wednesday and continues through 6 p.m. Thursday for K-State students at At least 60 percent of the votes must be in favor in order for the project to pass.

Over the past 10 months, with input from the student body and an outside consulting group (ASG Architects), the Student Governing Association developed the plan to address what are viewed as structural deficiencies and the needs of a growing student body, which is at a record-high.

The “Your Union” campaign began March 25 to spread the message of why an improved union is needed through presentations to organizations, social media and open forums.

It is similar to the process by which the student union was built. K-State students voted to pay an additional $5 per semester from 1941 to 1956 in order to erect the building.

This wouldn’t be the first time the union has been renovated or expanded, although raising student fees hasn’t been used since the initial building.

The union has undergone two additions, completed in 1963 and 1970, for a total of 140,000 additional square feet.

The union was last renovated during the 1999-00 academic year, when several new places opened, including the computer store. Beyond that, existing areas such as the bookstore and food court were renovated.

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