After 20 years on the first floor of the Nebraska Union, the University Program Council office at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will potentially relocate to the second floor of the union later this year.
UPC members learned around 10 p.m. March 3 that they may need to relocate from their current office space to the Student Involvement suite.
Karen Wills, UPC program coordinator, knew about the potential move in January but was asked not to disclose the information with UPC members until the decision to move was planned further, according to An Dang, junior biochemistry major and UPC president.
Representatives from UPC expressed their concerns to ASUN at the senate’s weekly meeting Wednesday, March 3, and ASUN external vice president Ibraheem Hamzat thanked the members for seeing ASUN as an ally.
The council then met with assistant vice chancellor for Student Affairs TJ McDowell Thursday, and McDowell told them UPC would need to move later this year, Dang said.
Because of its longtime presence on the first floor of the union, the new space may hinder UPC’s ability to provide benefits to the campus community by making it more difficult for the council to work on sensitive material, like agent contracting and event planning, due to the more open layout of the Student Involvement suite, according to Dang.
Ryan Lahne, director of the Nebraska Unions, said the Nebraska Union Board, members of the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska and other groups of students and full-time staff met in the spring of 2019 to define how the union could best serve students in the future. Union renovations totaling around $40 million were discussed, and certain organizations housed in the union were scheduled to be moved.
“The principles behind the master plan were: Let’s create spaces that we can meet students where they’re at, let’s create spaces that … can best serve students and let’s create those adjacencies in those areas and connectivity of services so that students can, again, be served best [and] be successful on campus,” Lahne said.
UPC, Room 134 in the union, and the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, Room 332 in the union, are two organizations set to move into the Student Involvement suite in order to make the second floor more student-centered, Lahne said. Student Legal Services, a program of ASUN currently in Room 335, will move into space currently occupied by UPC to be closer to the ASUN office. Less student-focused services, such as union administration offices, will be moved to the third floor of the union.
The renovation project is still being developed and finalized with the intent for the majority of renovations and office moves to occur at the end of the semester and before the start of the 2020-21 school year, Lahne said. All groups involved with the move have been notified, and Nebraska Unions has been working with the office heads since about the end of January, he said.
The decision to move UPC is not meant to put the members in a place where they will not be successful, according to Lahne. He said the reorganization of union offices is supposed to have a positive impact on students, which is a major goal of the Nebraska Unions.
“It’s always been part of keeping students first,” he said. “It’s the student union, it’s a student building. We want to make sure they’re connecting. We want to make sure we’re serving students, and that’s always been the intent.”
Dang said he will meet with McDowell later this week to discuss a timeline and accommodations, as this is the first time UPC members have been included in the conversation. The UPC move seems essential, Dang said, but it is unclear what the outcome will be.
“As it is right now,” he said, “we believe that the new space will interfere with our ability to meet the needs of our members, as well as the students and campus partners that we work with.”