What you need to know about the proposed Student Union Building

The image is an artist’s rendering and is subject to change for final design. Photo courtesy of UTSA

Share This:

A new Student Union Building is being proposed for students to vote upon, which would replace the Student Activities Center standing in between the Human Performance Center and the Gardner Student Center.

If the majority vote is “yes,” it would start a years-long process of approvals and voting before the building is on campus. This vote is just the beginning in terms of the completion of the Student Union Building.

The building is advertised to bring more dining options, more space for students and a new and bigger campus store. The Utah Tech Student Association website estimated groundbreaking for the building would be in 2026.

The website also said: “Student Union Buildings serve as a destination that connects the university community. It becomes the hub of campus where students can unwind, dine, access centralized serves, and build Trailblazer Nation.”

Cost estimations broken down

The Student Union Building is estimated to cost $75 million. The breakdown of the cost estimations includes:

  • $33 million from State of Utah appropriations
  • $14 million from donations
  • $28 million from student fee balances

Students can expect to see a $22.25 fee increase each academic year over four years, capping at an $89 increase. The general student fee needed to fund the debt service for the cost of construction will be $65 per semester. Each semester, the student fee amount allotted to cover necessary operating expenses will be $24 per semester.

If the budget of the building would increase, Utah Tech would get more money from a bond and not from the students.

A savings account for the Student Union Building has been around since 2015, and $5 of our student fees already goes toward it each semester.

Vice President of Student Life Karson Ray, a senior healthcare administration major from St. George, said, “At the moment, it [the savings account] can only be used for the Student Union Building because that is the purpose…Like how student fees can only be used for student fees…”

Essentially, the savings account is only to be used to benefit the student body. Ray gave the example of the new UT sign by the encampment mall.

If the majority vote is “no,” the savings account would be reconsidered for other student purposes.


There have been multiple features advertised in the Student Union Building including:

  • Three times more square footage of dining space
  • Outdoor and indoor seating areas
  • New ballroom areas and bigger space for students
  • Campus store

There have been ideas of moving around student resources like the Booth Wellness Center and the Testing Center, but nothing has been confirmed on where these will be relocated to.

Benji Welch, a senior marketing major from Las Vegas, said, “We’ve talked to a lot of student organizations across campus and have gotten some really good questions and have been able to find answers even if we don’t have them.”

The process of deciding where each idea will go will be determined by students. UTSA has been collecting data through Instagram polls, presentations and word of mouth through students.

“The goal of the building is obviously to meet the needs of students as a whole,” Ray said.

The current student building, the Gardner Center, would coincide with the Student Union Building to hold all student resources. Any remodel of the Gardner would be funded and remodeled separately.

The process of getting a concept for the building started two years ago, which included hiring an artificial firm and doing a feasibility study.

Paul Morris, vice president of academic affairs, said, “The feasibility was designed to determine whether adding on was the right move…”

What was learned is that no amount of money toward a remodel would accomplish what is needed. A new building was the only option.

Future plans

If the majority vote is “no,” there are no plans to demolish or replace the Student Activities Center.

The savings account will continue to accumulate, and UTSA will recirculate to the idea of a Student Union Building in the future. This is all up to a new student body leadership. If a new student concern arises, the funding will go toward that.

If the majority vote is “yes,” fees will be added in the fall 2024 semester.

There are multiple steps in approving, voting and creating building plans. The estimated ground-breaking is in 2026, and this building is a five-year build. Students attending Utah Tech will not see the final building before they graduate.

Voting for the Student Union Building will open Feb. 5 at 11 a.m. and close on Feb. 6 at 11:50 p.m. Students need to have a D number and have to be on campus to vote as voting is geocached. Voting can be done through MyUT.