BMU renovations to give student leadership room to work

The Bell Memorial Union is being renovated to facilitate student involvement and give it a more inclusive environment.

Associated Students is finalizing renovations to make the BMU better-equipped for student government and the student population within the next year. The two stages of renovations will total $1.3 million and will be paid for by A.S.

Second floor remodel

The first stage will transform the second floor of the Wildcat Store into a place for students to get involved with organizations.

Kory Acosta
Kory Acosta

The new renovations will feature a more modern design, said Kory Acosta, a junior and the vice president of facilities and services.

“The concept we are going for is an open space,” Acosta said. “We went to different offices of big corporations in San Francisco and it is all open and there are no closed-off offices.”

When students graduate and transition to jobs at large corporations, they will already be familiar with open office space and have experience working in a similar environment, he said.

“We want to use the space in a modern way so we are going to have portable walls that are glass, which makes it more open,” Acosta said.

The second floor will include space for A.S., the Student Life and Leadership Office, the Freshman Leadership Opportunity program, Union Label and the Wildcat Leadership Institute.

“The offices are going to be defined, but there will be an open meeting room for anyone,” Acosta said.

The new leadership hub will be similar to the fourth floor of the library, said David Buckley, the executive director of A.S. It will be a place where all students are welcome to come and find an organization that fits them.

“In the past, you would have to go find organizations, but there are a lot of students that don’t,” Buckley said. “We are definitely interested in bringing in students who may not typically come in here. Whether it is FLO, Union Label, Greek life or the Environment Affairs Council, it will all be here.”

The new area is being specifically designed for the students to make a collaborative workspace.

“The cool thing is that we don’t know how students will react, but if we can leave it extremely flexible then we just watch how students behave and then work it so we can build it around the students,” Buckley said.

Bathroom overhaul

The second stage of the renovations is remodeling the bathrooms on the first and second floors and the Government Affairs Office.

“There are going to be renovations in the basement bathrooms and then the second-floor bathrooms,” Buckley said. “The plan is to make it into three separate gender-inclusive bathrooms. It is going to be exciting, it is a very cool thing.”

A.S. should properly label the bathrooms as designed for everyone regardless of gender, Acosta said.

“I am going to suggest this, I’ve seen restrooms that have half men and half women on the sign and at the bottom it will say ‘These restrooms are for people regardless of gender or sex,’” Acosta said. “So that makes it more inclusive and intentional.”

Mary Steves, a sophomore agriculture and communications major and a coordinator of the Freshman Leadership Opportunity program, said she is looking forward to the renovations.

“I think the move is very exciting,” Steves said. “To be able to have all of the organizations under one roof will be really interesting and really fun.”

Student leaders are looking forward to the new changes to come and to expand their space so that more people are welcome and can join clubs and organizations, Acosta said.

“It will centralize all of these different organizations that are spread out throughout the building and help put them together in one leadership hub,” he said. “There are over 200 clubs and organizations that are going to have to walk through this area and it creates a visible hub. Everybody will benefit from this.”

Construction for the first stage is set to begin in January and will potentially be finished by spring break. The second phase will start in summer and be finished by the time the new school year begins in fall 2014.


Lindsay Pincus can be reached at [email protected] or @lindsaypincus on Twitter.