UTAH TECH UNIVERSITY'S STUDENT NEWS SOURCE | April 18, 2024

EDITORIAL | Build or bust? The Student Union Building is not what students need

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

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Dear students,

You have probably heard of the new Student Union Building, the Utah Tech Student Association’s ambitious plan to create a social hub for students on campus. But as far as the details go, we’ve noticed a few issues with the project.

The project is spearheaded by UTSA. It is proposed to provide increased dining options, larger event spaces, a new campus store and centralized student services. But these plans are largely incomplete and subject to change. Final designs for the building have yet to be completed, so students can’t be guaranteed anything.

We also find many of the tactics used to promote the building unethical and misleading. UTSA continues to advertise the Student Union Building to “meet student needs” and provide “access to campus resources,” but they haven’t been able to tell us exactly what we’re paying for. We have seen an overwhelming amount of marketing for the positive side of this project, but little to no information on the negative.

As students have expressed their opposition to the building, we have seen members of UTSA shutting them down online. As leaders of our student body, we want to see UTSA members listening and responding to the voices of student concern. This project is supposed to be for the student body. If we vote “no,” we should still be supported and respected.

Comment section from UTSA’s Instagram post about the Student Union Building between a student and a UTSA member that has since been deleted.

Similarly, we have noticed a large amount of misinformation circulating as a result of misleading advertising. If you’ve walked around campus recently, you have probably noticed posters with “$22 fee increase” in big bolded letters. What you might not have noticed is the small text printed underneath, which outlines that this increase is per year. This type of marketing is misleading to the many students just strolling past.

A sign posted outside the Gardner Building advertising the Student Union Building.

Additionally, the Student Union Building is advertised to break ground in 2026 but fails to mention that the project will undoubtedly span over at least the next decade. This means that the pledged renovations to the Gardner and Browning buildings if approved would not occur for far over a decade—a greater span of time than advertised. Current students will be long gone by the time it is completed.

But that doesn’t change the fact that we’ll be the ones paying for it.

UTSA is advertising a fee increase of $22.25 over the course of the next four years, capping at $89 per academic year. However, we find it problematic to vote “yes” for a fee increase that has no plan for exactly how it will be spent.

We don’t feel comfortable casting our votes for a design so susceptible to change. Voting “yes” means going forward blindly with a plan that could end up costing students more than they’re willing to pay for.

A vast majority of the planned additions to the Student Union Building, like a brand new UTSA office, are things that students already have or don’t need. While many of us would love to see new dining options on campus, we didn’t ask to pay for a new lounge for UTSA.

In the eyes of UTSA, the improvements that we really want to see, like improved parking, come second to constructing the Student Union Building. If the vote passes, these are changes that the university can’t expect to see for over a decade.

Our student leaders are prioritizing the wrong changes—we are in far greater need of a new testing center than we are for new dining options. The time spent rushing this project forward could be time better spent pushing for meaningful change.

With the lack of planning and reliable information currently in circulation, we do not support the project in its current state.

Our student leaders should be advocating for the changes that will benefit students most. We want to see our leaders focusing our time and resources on supporting the reason we’re here: our education. At the end of the day, students are here to get their degrees, and the focus of Utah Tech’s growth should reflect that.

The resources the Student Union Building might provide would be good for students but don’t address the main priorities of the student body. There are too many unanswered questions that UTSA doesn’t have the answer to, but they’re advertising like they do. This proposal is incomplete, and UTSA is masking its flaws with misleading marketing and backlash to those who oppose it.

UTSA has also failed to properly inform students how to vote. The vote will take place through MyUT, but the system utilizes geocaching to only allow students on campus the ability to vote. By spreading misinformation about the voting process, UTSA is tipping the scales ever more in their favor.

Voting for the Student Union Building will open Feb. 5 at 11 a.m. and close on Feb. 6 at 11:50 p.m.

But before you vote, consider the consequences of the outcome. Let your votes speak louder than misleading promises—is gambling on a project that prioritizes flashy amenities over the true needs of our student body the best future for Utah Tech?