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Carolina Union Board of Directors plans potential rebuild of Student Union

20231213_Skvoretz_File-student-union-2.jpg
Students walk near the Student Union on Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2023.

Members of the Carolina Union Board of Directors have begun discussing a plan to potentially rebuild the Student Union. 

Tj Edwards, chair of the board, said rebuilding the Union was one of the bigger projects that they wanted to take on when they first began their role. 

“A lot of our school's administration, as well as our student leaders, have identified the Carolina Union as being an old and deteriorating building that doesn’t provide the service that a lot of student unions across the North Carolina public university system do,” Edwards said. “That’s something that we’re trying to fix.”

Through meeting with Executive Director of the Union Alexandra Marchesano over the course of last summer and this academic year and having biweekly meetings with the board, Edwards put together a plan to begin the process of building a new student union.

The current Student Union — named after Frank Porter Graham — dates back to 1968.

“Currently the step that we’re on in the process is I’m going on tour to all of the different North Carolina public universities that have received a new student union over the last 10 to 15 years,” Edwards said.

Edwards and Marchesano have visited East Carolina University and N.C. State University alongside Joe Singer, director of event services and senior associate director of the Carolina Union, and Tori Holder, associate director of communications and creative services at the Carolina Union.

This semester, they plan to visit UNC Charlotte, N.C. A&T and N.C. Central University.

Edwards has also been working with the board to gain student support on this topic. Christopher Everett, undergraduate student body president, sits on the board and has been working with Edwards closely on this issue.

Everett said he has also been working on additional projects, such as renovating campus recreational facilities. He said that he and Edwards have taken a double pronged approach, where they have been able to uplift one another's initiatives.

“My goal at least has been how can I really start these conversations, make them effective and then use this time to make sure these goals can outlive my time here," Everett said.

In a written statement to The Daily Tar Heel, Marchesano said the board is in the early stages of determining the project's feasibility. She also said planning for a new Union space is expected to take several years.

In order for this project to be approved, Marchesano said that there are a number of steps that need to happen, starting with support from students, university leadership, the Board of Trustees and the Board of Governors, among other stakeholders.

“To move forward, funding for this project would need to be defined and approved, which would likely come from a combination of University/state resources, bonds, student fees and donor support,” Marchesano said in the statement.

The Union's space is used for many events throughout the year, from club meetings and classes to New Student Orientation at the beginning of every academic year.

During the potential rebuild, Edwards said that there are many classrooms around campus that could be used in addition to alternative spaces for larger events on campus.

“We definitely recognize that this is not a project that can be completed in a year, or even three. This is certainly a long-term project, but it’s important that students are educated and activated throughout this process so that it can be successful,” Edwards said.

@nataliemcc212

@dailytarheel | university@dailytarheel.com

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