At the beginning of every quarter, students flood the UC Davis Bookstore to endure long lines and crowded aisles to purchase textbooks. This winter quarter, the bookstore management had to consider closing down due to an unsafe amount of student shoppers present at the same time.
In response to situations like this, the Campus Unions and Recreation Board – a student advisory group – has proposed to renovate the bookstore, as well as other parts of the Memorial Union.
Brett Burns, the Campus Unions director who is managing the project, believes the UC Davis bookstore to be “grossly undersized” for an institution of more than 30,000 students.
“We’re moving to expand the bookstore and also clean up the first floor corridors,” Burns said.
“Right now, the MU is pretty segmented,” he said. “It’s not like the other student unions where you can kind of see the vast array of offerings the student union has to offer from food service to lounge space to meeting space to a café to a bookstore.“
The total project cost will be approximately $30 million and will be funded by the MU Net Revenue Reserves, a combination of revenues made from the bookstore, food service commissions and the rental of meeting spaces on campus, Burns said.
The project is currently in the schematic phase, but CURB hopes to begin construction in summer 2010.
“We’re looking to add a café-style food service element [inside the bookstore] that will be run by the Coffee House and ASUCD – very similar to what you’d see at Borders or Barnes and Noble,” Burns said. “It will also have some lounge furniture and a place [for students] to study.“
In addition to creating a study space, the bookstore will gain a second floor that will hold the Tech Hub, the MU computer lab currently next to the ATMs, said ASUCD President Ivan Carrillo in an e-mail interview.
CURB plans on expanding the technological aspects as well, Burns said.
“We’re going to expand the Tech Hub so that there will be a lot more options for technology from computers to everything that has to go with it, [including iPods],” he said.
CURB sought input from focus groups, bookstore employees, staff members and students in designing the project.
The renovated bookstore will also better accommodate disabled students, Burns said. In order to make the bookstore wheelchair accessible, the aisle widths will become larger, and an elevator will be installed in the bookstore.
“Not a whole lot is being changed, but enough is to make it comfortable,” Burns said.
There have been some differences in opinion on the expansion project.
The tentative design also includes the addition of a marketplace on the east wing of the MU. Some ASUCD officials are not happy, as its construction would eliminate the space for the current ASUCD units, such as the Post Office, Campus Copies and the Aggie Student Store, Carrillo said.
“The proposed marketplace would [also] sell food to which the ASUCD Coffee House is guaranteed sole rights,” he said.
Molly Fluet, ASUCD vice president, said a renovation is needed and believes the ASUCD unit directors need to be a part of the planning process so that they can express their thoughts on the needs of the businesses during and after the renovation.
“The planning committee seems to emphasize the expansion of the bookstore, which is a great revenue source for the university and is needed during these tough economic times, but the MU is a place for students, and students‘ needs should be the priority,” she said in an e-mail interview.
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