The completion of the new student center, University Crossing, marks an accomplishment that was 27 years in the making, according to Assistant Dean of Students Mary Connelly.
“Part of it was finding the right location,” she says.
Connelly says the university tried to buy the space earlier for the College of Health Sciences, but the whole project did not come to the forefront until Chancellor Marty Meehan was back on campus.
“He really wanted to enhance the student experience,” she says.
While the building houses many administrative offices, it also caters to students with dining options and spaces for various clubs and organizations on campus. Students are taking notice.
“I really like it!” says freshman Kara Tuohy. “It’s a lot bigger and nicer than I thought it would be, and everything is really easy to find.”
Tuohy said she is a frequent visitor to Crossroads Café, a dining option available at University Crossing. Crossroads Café features a menu that serves favorites from Starbucks and Sal’s Pizza, as well as snacks, beverages and other offerings.
Senior Johnny Phauk said he also takes advantage of the space’s refreshments. Phauk frequently tutors writing on North Campus and said he likes the convenience of the walk between the two locations.
“University Crossing is a place I frequently stop at between tutoring shifts to either grab a pizza from Sal’s or an iced coffee from Starbucks,” he says.
Another feature that University Crossing has is one centralized bookstore for both North and South campus majors.
“For students who have classes on both North and South, finding all of their required textbooks is just that much easier since all the books they need are now located in one convenient bookstore,” says Phauk.
Connelly says there was a major push from Meehan for a world-class bookstore. She also says that, along with the bookstore, world-class authors are being brought in, with plans to invite celebrity authors and other famous writers.
Some students say that having the bookstore in one location is a difficult adjustment.
“The bookstore being on South was extremely convenient to have since I could run there quickly between classes to grab any books or notebooks I needed,” says junior Tim Sheils. “But since it’s at University Crossing now, it’s made it difficult for me to get there since my class schedule has almost no time in between.”
Students also say that the function of the building can be misleading. Senior Bridget Sullivan says some students think the space is only for those involved with clubs; she says that this can be solved with better marketing.
“It needs to be marketed to students that it’s a space for all students, not just those involved in clubs,” she says.
Sullivan feels that having everything in one place is very helpful to students. Her favorite features of the building include the new bookstore and solution center.
“It’s a one-stop shop for students with questions about the registrar, financial aid and financial services,” she says.
Sullivan also says she would like to see more student space and comfier couches. Phauk also said that the space should be used with students in mind.
“As an English major on South Campus, one building I [had] gotten to know like the back of my hand was McGauvran,” he said. “It was a place where students had lunch between classes, played video games and pool and where many clubs [held] fundraisers as well as promote[d] campus events. If University Crossing could provide that sort of atmosphere, then I would say they are going in the right direction.”
Phauk also says one of University Crossing’s best qualities is that it combines social circles of students from all majors.
“The great thing about University Crossing is that it’s not just South Campus students,” he says. “It’s a combination of South Campus students and North Campus students.”
Sheils says the fact that all student needs are in one building is impressive, especially the Club Hub space.
“It gives a centralized place to have meetings,” he says.
Connelly says students can reserve meeting rooms with an app called Dibs. She says there are nine rooms solely designated for students that can be booked in as little as 10 minutes for two-hour shifts.
“It’s also meant for students who are looking for places to study,” says Connelly. “We think it makes it a lot easier for students to find space.”
Connelly says she walks through the Club Hub almost every day and always sees students working collaboratively, either with clubs or study groups. She says she is particularly excited with how the Club Hub has developed.
Some students say the space could still use improvement.
One thing Sheils is disappointed about is that the Off-Broadway Players, the student run theatre group on campus, lost office space it previously had in MacGauvran. Sheils serves as treasurer on the club’s executive board.
Connelly says a system providing individual lockers for clubs is still being developed.
In addition to storage concerns, students also say that there are some changes they would like to see to enhance University Crossing. One is transportation.
Sheils says a smaller bus line from East Campus or South Campus to University Crossing would be better instead of making it a side stop.
He also says the current route system makes it seem repetitive that every bus stops at the building.
“It would allow for the Red and Blue bus lines to stick to their scheduled stops,” he says.
But Sheils says he is confident the university will be able to adjust.
“I feel most of the kinks will be worked out by the university,” he says. “They’re pretty good at that.”
Connelly also says the building sets the university apart from any other university in the country. She says that Meehan is visible and accessible to the university community while other school’s chancellors prefer to be distant.
“There’s not another school that has a building like this with the chancellor’s office on the top floor,” she says.