Full-time University of Idaho students pay about $90 per year in student fees to support the Idaho Commons and Student Union Building. With the SUB under renovation, there is a lack of space for students to get together, study and hang out, ASUI President Max Cowan said.
“We as ASUI, have asked for the vacant space near the rotunda and information desk in the Commons to use as a student lounge and group study area,” Cowan said. “The process was long and drawn-out, but it yielded success and students will be able to utilize the space beginning next week — just in time for studying for finals.”
The grand opening for the new student lounge will be on Monday, with ASUI representatives serving snacks and beverages to students who make use of the expanded study area.
Chair of ASUI Commons and Union Board Ana Reed said the new lounge will only be open for the duration of the school year because the College of Education will temporarily move into the space in May.
“The space hasn’t been given to us permanently,” Reed said. “The College of Education will undergo a remodel for a couple years beginning this summer, so we will have to give the space to them for that time period. Then maybe we can get it back after they move out.”
Reed said obtaining the space for student use has not been an easy task and has been on the ICUB agenda for the last several years.
“Two years ago, I was on the board and we conducted a student survey that showed students wanted to use the open space that they paid for through their student fees,” Reed said. “We filed a request to the provost at the time and it was rejected. We didn’t know why, but it was, and basically nothing happened with the space — other than it being a temporary office for the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences — until now.”
Cowan said Interim Provost Kathy Aiken was very accommodating in granting the use of the space from now until the end of the academic year.
“Ana Reed and I went and talked to Provost Kathy Aiken and she understood that the space would be better off being used by the students than to be sitting vacant until the College of Education moved in,” Cowan said. “With approval from the vice president, we were able to make it happen.”
ASUI Communications Board Chair Tyler Tennison said furnishing the student lounge has not cost ASUI or students a dime because the old furniture from the SUB will be used in the new student lounge.
“The furniture is free,” Tennison said. “We were able to get the tables and chairs from the Student Union Building — which is currently being remodeled — and use them in the new lounge because the SUB is not taking them back.”
With the logistics of the new student lounge figured out, it is still missing a name. Cowan said the space will likely have several names over the course of spring semester, because he plans to use the ASUI Facebook page to host a contest where students will have the opportunity to have the lounge named after them.
“ASUI will share a post about changing the student lounge name again, so then I would share the post on my wall,” Cowan said. “If I were to be selected out of all of the people who shared the post, then for the next month the name of the lounge would be the Maxwell Cowan Honorary Student Lounge.”
Tennison said naming the lounge after students is a good way to encourage the student body to engage and participate with ASUI.
“It will be a fun way for students to get their name out there,” Tennison said. “How great would it be if students can look back at their college career and say ‘hey, I had a student lounge named after me.’ I think it people will love the idea.”
Cowan said he hopes to see students utilize the space, and that students can make it a place to work and relax.
“It’s in a prime location,” Cowan said. “It’s in the center of campus, next to the most classes and places to eat. And it’s the perfect time to open it up, students are going to need somewhere to study for finals.”
Amber Emery can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org