The Stony Brook Student Union building is scheduled to be gutted and renovated beginning in August 2014. Until then, Stony Brook University and its facilities team must walk a delicate line between saving money and allowing the building to deteriorate over the next few years. The majority—if not all—of the students at Stony Brook now will likely have graduated before the project ends, as is par for the course here at our construction-ridden university, yet that should not undermine the ever-present argument that it is unfair and unacceptable to force current students to inhabit a not only outdated, but also partially maintained Union building.
In the last few months, the condition of the Union building has improved considerably. At its low point over the summer, its list of problems included mold, flooding and falling pieces of ceiling. This, says Howard Gunston, a facilities director, was a result of the building being unstaffed from January to August. Though the cleanups have been greatly appreciated by tenants, it’s scary to think the Union building could fall back into disrepair if facilities staffs are cut even more than it already has been. A short walk across the academic mall should be no excuse for neglecting a building, and it should not be treated as such in the future.
No decisions have been made yet, and a number of nervous tenants are eagerly awaiting news about their future. Though there’s still plenty of time to determine temporary and permanent locations for all of the Union building’s tenants, the uncertainty has caused stress for most of the people we interviewed for our two features on the Union. If facilities continues to consult with tenants in meetings as they have, concerns are likely to be addressed in a timely fashion.
Stony Brook University’s history of delayed construction projects is enough to make us uneasy about the scheduled August 2014 start date. Just this semester two projects, the Campus Recreation Center and the improvements being made to the North Entrance, have dragged on long after they were scheduled to be finished.
That’s especially concerning because the Union building’s renovations are predicated on a new dining hall that has yet to find a place on campus, but will be absolutely necessary in alleviating food court traffic now that Benedict has closed its doors. That said, there is a very real possibility that Union tenants will spend even longer than expected in a state of limbo, meaning regular updates from facilities for tenants and the student body at large will only help to clear up any confusion about where on campus features of the Union will end up, or if they will stay at all.