UNC is looking into expanding the Carolina Union, which might just mean rolling out the bulldozers.
Vice Chair for the Carolina Union Board of Directors Neil Harwani said a professional design and architecture firm was brought in to assess potential for expansion, as well as to work with students to poll their interests.
“The new concept right now is that it would be a total demolition of the two union buildings,” he said. “It could take 16-24 months. They looked into expanding on the current building, but the current structure really doesn’t allow us to build up.”
Harwani said the plan for expansion hasn’t been finalized, but assuming the plan passes a student referendum the decision may be made to knock the existing Union down.
He said professionals assessed the current building and determined there was no potential to build extra floors. Without room to build horizontally, the Union has nowhere to go but up.
“So right now we’re still in the education phase,” Harwani said. “Right now all of the specifics of what will actually be in the rooms will all be figured out later on. The process is really feasibility study, student referendum, and then depending on how that goes you move into advanced planning.”
Harwani said the information collected for the study showed that over 80 percent of students support an expansion of the Union, and rank it as a medium to high priority.
“A lot of the work we’ve even doing this semester has been actually going to these student organizations that are active users of the Carolina Union and really talking to them and informing them of the decisions that have been made,” he said. “So far there really haven’t been any specific requests.”
Harwani did say that some of the longstanding student organizations like WXYC and Student Congress will have a guaranteed space in a new Union, and said that other groups that have a usual space right now will likely still have one after any changes.
“So for example student congress does their senate meetings around campus,” he said. “In the new building, they will have a senate room where they can hold their meetings.”
Student Government Treasurer Ben Albert said that new space will be greatly appreciated.
“In the new union there’s going to be a senate chamber which will be really great for the senate,” he said. “Right now they have to go around to different classrooms and it’s kind of all over the place.”
Albert said the proposal had a good chance of passing a student referendum, but also has to get a recommendation from the Student Fees Audit Committee.
He said Student Government currently has all of its needs met by the Union, but would welcome new space to make them more accessible.
“Honestly we are pretty well taken care of now,” he said. “We have plenty of space and some of us even have offices. I mean a fridge would be nice.”
Sophomore Journalism major Isabella Hernandez said the Union is her choice study spot, beating out the ever-crowded Davis Library.
“I actually come here a lot,” she said. “There’s food here, and I don’t know, it’s just very airy compared to the library which always seems so dead.”
Hernandez said she loves the high ceilings and quiet white noise in the Union because it keeps her in touch with what’s going on at UNC.
“It’s a really great hub,” she said. “If I go to the library there’s not going to be that many people, but when I’m here it’s nice to see new faces. It gives you a chance to actually socialize while your studying, which for me at least is a good way to stay connected with university life instead of just getting absorbed in my books.”
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