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UNC Student Union welcomes new director with renovations

	Thirty new lockers located on the bottom level on the Student Union are among some of the fall renovations. They are free to use.

Thirty new lockers located on the bottom level on the Student Union are among some of the fall renovations. They are free to use.

Even after last summer’s multimillion-dollar renovation of the Student Union, students can still expect more changes when returning this semester — including lockers, storage units and a new director.

While 2012 updates to the Union boasted a 24-hour Wendy’s, presentation area and meditation room, this summer’s renovations bring smaller changes — ones that new Student Union Director Crystal King said will improve the experiences of many students.

“We do have 30 lockers available for student use, and hopefully they’ll really speak to the needs of our commuter population, who don’t have the luxury of all this additional space on campus to house their things,” King said.

Located in the Union’s bottom floor, the lockers are deep enough to hold items such as large backpacks and helmets. While it’s free to use the daily lockers, the project cost $17,845 in student fees, which rounds out to about 60 cents per enrolled student, she said. The Union had lockers twice in the past, but they were later scraped due to infrequent use.

Fifteen 5-by-8-foot storage units were also installed in the Union at the request of several student organizations in an appeal for more storage space. They have already been allocated to student groups for the school year, King said.

While plans for these renovations had been in place long before the summer — like everything else at UNC — they’re new to King, whose first day as Union director was July 29.

“Being able to balance moving us forward, deciding a plan and learning the Carolina Way is all happening at the same time, so that really is my biggest challenge,” she said. King is already making plans to meet with many student groups and hopes to tap into the interests of the student population by increasing the Union’s social media use.

In terms of more tangible goals, King will have her hands full, with many future Union renovations already in the works.

Scott Hudson, senior associate director of operations for the Union, said students can expect a new performance space in the West Lounge by the end of the semester. Construction on the space began this summer.

“It’s not going to be something that you’re going to put a play on there, but I think that you’re going to have a lot of singer-songwriters, small bands, acoustic bands, spoken word,” Hudson said. “There’s a lot of opportunity for space like that.”

Even though King is still trying to get acclimated to the new position, coworkers say her outsider experience in coming to UNC from the University of Texas at Austin will make her a great asset to the team.

“That experience will serve us well and (help us) see what the other large public flagship institutions have and how they approach their facilities and accomplish their renovations there,” said Tony Patterson, senior associate director of student life and activities with the Union. “She’s very approachable, a great person to talk to.”

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