Student Union plans don’t include media

While other supervised student-run organizations and departments will move to the new Student Union building when it opens, Student Media will not have a home there. A limited amount of money and space forced the planning group to prioritize, according to Mark Shanley, vice president of Student Affairs.

The organizations included in the move are a part of the Office of Student Life, such as the Student Government Association, Activities Programming Board, Greek coordinating councils, Northern Kentucky Leadership Institute, and the Latino, African American, and International Student Affairs.

Shanley said he and a planning group comprised of faculty, staff and student representatives chose some, but not all, of the largest and highest impact organizations on campus to place into a shared environment. The groups will be located in close vicinity to each other to pull them together and encourage interaction.

Dean Kent Kelso said by doing this, they hope to encourage collaborative activities and cross-organizational programming.

“The student organizations that are represented are ones that require a whole lot of interaction with each other and the offices they work with,” Shanley said.

Shanley feels the organizations chosen to move interact not only with other organizations, but also with the student body, who receives direct service from them on a daily basis. Shanley also said a commonality among the organizations is they are very visible to the general student body.

Shanley compared Student Media to Student Orientation, an example of an administrative organization that will remain in the University Center. He feels they do most of their work “behind the scenes” and that not many students go into the orientation office to interact each day.

“Student Media is a very high impact collaborative group of organizations that have a lot of impact on campus,” Shanley said. “But the work of Student Media occurs one-on-one through interviews and coverage of events and (their) editorial or writing activities are largely private or possibly focused in the evening hours.”

“The Student Media represent such different fields with different charges that I don’t expect interaction between them,” said Andrew Miller, adviser for the Licking River Review and NKU Expressed. “In the past, editors from the Northerner have worked on the literary magazines but the purpose of each group is very different.”

“I believe the students see the final product of the media,” said Amy Ehrnreiter, editor in chief of The Northerner. “They don’t know exactly what the media are working on or how long it takes to make the final product.” Ehrnreiter thinks Student Media groups need to work together to be able to grow; she also believes The Northerner interacts with a wider variety of organizations on a daily basis than other student groups do.

Some involved in Student Media have expressed dissatisfaction that their groups will not be included in the new building.

“My frustration is not knowing where our home will be,” said Gayle Brown, Student Media director. The Student Media board previously submitted a proposal to utilize the space that other organizations will vacate in the University Center. The plan would bring their various groups together, allowing them to “combine budgetary and student resources” and share space.

According to Kelso, he has not yet discussed the proposal with Shanley because a space committee for the University Center renovation has not been formed and finances have not been granted.

Shanley said the administration has discussed the idea of bringing the groups together for years and he is familiar with the student media board recommendations, but does not recall looking at the latest proposal. The decisions for the future of the University Center will undergo a research process much like the planning for the new Student Union.

Food services will take up the largest amount of space in the new Student Union, 30,000 sqare feet, to meet the demands of a campus that has grown much larger than expected, according to Kelso. A grand ballroom that can hold approximately 900 occupants is also another large edition added to meet university needs, Shanley said.

To conclude who and what needs to be included in the building, Brailsford and Dunlavey in association with Ellerbe Becket Inc. performed a feasibility study. A hired consultant surveyed students, faculty and staff and then formed focus groups. It also researched contemporary trends in new student unions nationally. Some of these trends are to create a living room environment, upscale food service, high quality furnishings and equipment, a lot of natural light, and atrium spaces, according to Shanley. As chair of the group, he presented recommendations to the Board of Regents who then made the final decision around March 2003.