Wednesday, March 5, 2014
By Mike Clemens '15
The sounds of construction will soon grace the center of the Siena campus as the college embarks on an important renovation of the Sarazen Student Union. The project will give the SSU a student-friendly facelift.
“This renovation became a priority project because students need a space that is just theirs,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Maryellen Gilroy, Ed.D. “After talking with students over the last several years, it became clear that the current configuration of the SSU was no longer working.”
Last December, a committee of students, faculty and staff developed and presented a renovation plan to the college’s Board of Trustees, who voted to approve the project to update many of the Sarazen’s existing features. Students and staff have collaborated on the project and all renovation decisions have been made on the basis of student input.
“I think that this project will really give the campus a new, community feel,” said Luke Lavera ’15. “The Siena community is a family, after all, and the new SSU will be a place to show that.”
The renovation will introduce a number of changes to improve student life. The current Follett Bookstore will be transformed into a dedicated student lounge and coffee house with comfortable seating and ample areas for technology access, allowing students to simultaneously plug in and unwind. The area will also include a stage for student performances.
The bookstore will move downstairs to Bernie’s. The current sub shop space will be renovated and the bookstore will occupy a new storefront. The SSU will also gain a new commuter support area and an interfaith prayer room.
“This is a very exciting project because it is going to give students a great new space, a space that has activity, that has sound, that they can truly make their own,” said Laurie Naranch, Ph.D., associate professor of political science and a faculty member on the renovation committee. “I think that the benefit for the campus as a whole will be tremendous.”
The space will also create a venue for student collaboration, both with each other and with faculty and administrators. “We can’t wait to have more students in the building,” said Gilroy. “This will allow us to interact with the students so much better than we are able to now.”
In addition to advancing the interests of Siena students, the renovation will be grounded in the ideals of the college’s Catholic and Franciscan traditions through the inclusion of Fair Trade products. The new Fair Trade coffee bar will help to promote this important campus initiative.
“Siena is the first Catholic college to have full Fair Trade status in the country,” said Naranch. “The addition of a Fair Trade coffee bar to the SSU will be a way for us to simultaneously educate about and celebrate this identity.”
Construction is set to begin this month and will continue throughout the summer. The renovated Sarazen Student Union is scheduled to officially re-open in September.
“The new SSU will add some life and fun to campus,” said Gilroy. “This is a really big step in making the campus more student-friendly for years to come.”
The Sarazen Student Union renovation project is part of Living Our Tradition: The Campaign for Siena College. The $50 million comprehensive campaign launched last fall.
Click here If you are interested in donating to this project. Donors at the $500 and $1,000 levels will have an opportunity to engrave a personal commemorative brick to be permanently displayed on a wall in the McMahon Atrium outside of the new student lounge.