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Students walk through the SUB on Thursday afternoon. The Student Union Buildings joint adversary board are in the beginning stages of what may result in a renovation to the SUB for the first time in 10 years.
Students walk through the SUB on Thursday afternoon. The Student Union Buildings joint adversary board are in the beginning stages of what may result in a renovation to the SUB for the first time in 10 years.

SUB advisory board considers renovation

Vice President of Student Life Walt Miller, who is spearheading the process, said the long-term needs of the SUB are their top priority. The current stage involves collecting data and conducting analysis of who uses the SUB and for what, to determine if a renovation is a part of those long-term needs, he said.

“We’re starting the master planning for the SUB’s future, in a very broad sense,” he said.

Among the figures under examination is the number of students using the SUB on a daily basis, as well as the number of requests they are forced to turn down from UNM’s student organizations that use the SUB regularly.

“When you have a campus that has 400 student organizations, looking for meeting and office space becomes a challenge on any given day,” Miller said. “We’re going to look at a very global way of how to address that, while keeping in mind that we don’t want to move.”

It is not uncommon for student union buildings to renovate and expand to meet new demands, Miller said. He cited Colorado State University as one example, where the union building has undergone multiple renovations to meet that university’s needs.

“It becomes that community center for the campus, and serves many masters on any given day,” he said. “You need to have that flexibility. That’s part of what we’re trying to understand, is what do we see as far as requests coming in from student organizations and departments?”

The SUB, which is open from 7 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 11:45 p.m. on Sunday, is utilized for numerous school and community events almost constantly.

In addition to looking at internal information as far as usage of the SUB, Miller said the University plans to look at what other college campuses do with their union buildings. This strategy proved to be fruitful when planning the SUB’s last renovation.

“It really was helpful to us,” he said. “One thing that we noticed was the placing of student organizations and governments, both undergraduate and graduate, in a very visible spot. In some locations they were not, and we said they should be in a central area where people can go, ‘oh, that’s where it is.’”

Gabe Gallegos, a freshman strategic communications and political science double major, lives on campus and said he agrees that the SUB is a vital part of life at UNM.

“I think the SUB means a lot of things to a lot of different people,” Gallegos said. “As far as student life, the SUB is where everything happens and that’s where most of student success comes.”

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Success and enrichment have been goals of the SUB since it opened in 1953, Miller said. However, the ways that success is achieved has changed with the times.

Technology continues to dig deeper into the foundation of everyday life, something Miller said was impossible to foresee in the 1950s.

“There was not a thought at that time what would be done down the road,” Miller said. “To be honest, in the ‘50s you wouldn’t have had a computer lab in here. You’d have a bowling alley, but you wouldn’t have a computer lab.”

Miller said the computer lab in the SUB is among the most used on campus. It’s that kind of demand and expectation of access that has led members of the SUB’s advisory board to begin thinking about whether a renovation is necessary.

“We’re not coming to the table pre-determined,” he said. “We’re starting off with a data dump and we’re going to talk to other campuses to see what are the pieces that fit us, because it has to fit UNM.”

David Lynch is a staff reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at news@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @RealDavidLynch.

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