Construction of a student union building at Washington State University Tri-Cities can officially move forward.
The WSU Board of Regents unanimously approved the final design for the largely student-funded $5.73 million facility while meeting at the Richland campus Friday.
A ground-breaking ceremony is planned for May and construction will start this summer, wrapping up in time for the start of fall 2017 classes, university officials said.
The journey to finally seeing shovels in the ground for the project has taken years and has sometimes been bumpy with the turnover in student leadership, students and campus officials said. But it’s a facility students have eagerly awaited.
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“Students are always excited, students are always talking about it,” Vanessa Álvarez Sanchez, president of the Associated Students of WSU Tri-Cities, told the regents.
The one-story union will be built between the Consolidated Information Center, which houses the campus library, and the Columbia River. It will include lounge space, student government offices, a computer and meeting rooms, and will be surrounded by outdoor seating areas.
The student government is putting $1.5 million of its own money toward the project and the rest will be financed by a $150 per semester fee, approved by a student vote.
Jansen VanderMeulen, a WSU student member of the regents, said he had heard there were some communication issues about the project that had frustrated Tri-City students, but he is glad to see that the project is moving forward.
Álvarez Sanchez and Vice Chancellor Chris Meiers later told the Herald that any frustration on information about the union project stemmed largely from how long the project has been in the works and the resulting changes in student leadership over that time. Those problems have largely been resolved, they said.
The student union was one of three construction projects the regents approved Friday and Regent Laura M. Jennings said she was pleased with how the union came to fruition.
“Students played a leadership role that is really commendable,” she said.