The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s Reeve Memorial Union is getting a facelift.
The building, which will remain open during the renovations, will undergo changes to create a more open, welcoming and accessible entrance to Algoma Boulevard. The renovations will also enhance the Student Leadership and Involvement Center by adding more meeting spaces, work tables and storage for student organizations.
Additional improvements include a passenger elevator near the Algoma Boulevard entrance, a lactation room, gender neutral bathroom, new windows, enhanced meeting rooms on the second floor and a customer-friendly location for CopyThis! and Reeve Marketing.
“The accessibility piece is extremely important,” said Sara Ann Suwalski, assistant director of operations in Reeve Union. “The original building entrance had limitations in access and layout. We are proud to have a fully accessible entrance, elevators available for guests and restroom and lactation facilities available and visible for student and guest use. ”
“A student union is the primary community gathering place for this university. Providing an accessible entrance, a new elevator, gender neutral bathroom, and lactation room goes a long way to being an inclusive space. We want this building not only to look inviting, but to say ‘they thought about me’,” said Randy Hedge, director of Reeve Memorial Union.
The renovations are the result of a UW Oshkosh student vote in March 2012, which approved an increase of student segregated fees to cover the costs of the renovation. The increase will not exceed $28 per semester to cover the cost of the $7.8 million dollar renovation.
While the building remains open, the Algoma Boulevard entrance will be closed during the renovation. All services offered through Reeve Memorial Union will continue to be offered throughout the renovation.
“As I talk to students about the renovation, I share that we are committed to almost no loss of services for students during construction—the services may just be located in a new place in the building or around campus,” said Missy Burgess, assistant director for student involvement and member of the building committee.
Due to safety and construction needs, street traffic will be reduced to one driving and one bike lane throughout construction.
“Different crosswalks have been identified and Reeve will maintain three other fully accessible entrances to give students access to the same services as in the past,” Suwalski said.
Sophomore Kenzie Keena, a biology major from Salem, serves as the president of the Reeve Advisory Council and is part of the committee dedicated to making the renovations go as smoothly as possible.
“In the end, the goal of the renovation is to improve students’ lives on campus,” Keena said. “So for the next year, while Reeve is under renovation, and things will be different, we are doing everything we can to ensure that it does go smoothly and we address any concerns anyone has.”
Burgess said Reeve Union is the hub of campus life, helping to bring campus to life.
“Reeve Union is the place where students start their career when they come for advisement and registration and the place where they often find that ‘connection’ to UWO,” Burgess said. “It is important that it be accessible to all members of our community and provide modern, welcoming spaces for those connections and community-building to occur.”
Keena said she is most excited to see the completed space and see many organizations functioning in the same area together.
“I am curious to see how the students react as we go through the renovation and they can start to see the finished product come together. I think it’s going to be amazing, and I can’t wait to see everyone’s hard work pay off,” Keena said.
Senior political science major and philosophy minor Austyn Boothe, of Pleasant Prairie, serves as the Oshkosh Student Association (OSA) president and has been involved in making decisions that involve picking what type of furniture will be in different parts of the updated union to make it what students want and need.
“The new union will be more accessible to students, giving them a better opportunity to engage with other students,” Boothe said. “I am really looking forward to having an updated union that allows students to communicate, grow, relax and study all in one environment.”
“The student organization space in the renovation project will double in size and be a very inviting two-story space,” Hedge said. “It was very important to our students for it to be open and inviting to all, to encourage student involvement. It will be the first thing you will see as you enter Reeve’s new front door and will serve more than 170 registered student organizations.”
Throughout the renovation process students have been at the center of all of the decisions.
“Students voted for the renovations to occur, have had the majority representation on the building committee, and before almost every decision has been made, we have asked, ‘What do the students think or want?’,” Burgess said. “I hope that this space truly has the impact on students that we are hoping for!”
Construction is set to finish in the summer of 2017.