Arkansas Tech University new student union to open Tuesday

Jerry the Bulldog, Arkansas Tech University’s mascot, gets a tour of the new student union, which opens Tuesday to students and will remain open until Dec. 8.

Arkansas Tech University will unveil a new student union and put it into operation this month.

Located inside the Hull Physical Education Building, the $3.4 million student union will be open to the student body beginning on Tuesday.

Occupancy limits, social distancing guidelines and face covering requirements consistent with phase one of the ATU pandemic recovery framework will be in effect. The opening day will include snacks, tours and activities for ATU students.

“This is a place designed for students and student groups,” said Kevin Solomon, ATU associate dean for campus life. “The possibilities are limitless. We will work with students to make it the best possible space for them now and in the future. The student union is by students, for students and they will have the biggest voice in what happens there.”

A grand opening ceremony, which will require an invitation for in-person attendance due to the pandemic, is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Tuesday.

It will be available for viewing at www.facebook.com/atucampuslife and www.instagram.com/atucampuslife.

“The best way to describe the student union is it is like the living room in your house,” said Chelsea Lairamore, interim assistant dean for campus life at Arkansas Tech. “Our hope is to create a space where students want to hang out. We want students in there having fun. It’s a space where they can be themselves. It’s a gorgeous facility, and I can’t wait for people to see it.”

The Hull Building student union will provide ATU students with access to social activities such as table tennis, billiards, the latest Xbox and PlayStation video game systems, soft seating designed to encourage interaction and space for musical performances and presentations.

The construction contract issued to Cline Construction Group for the Hull Building student union project was in the amount of $3,485,952. That amount does not include furnishing, said Sam Strasner, director of university relations.

Lairamore said that acoustic music nights, karaoke nights and trivia nights are among the common suggestions for regularly occurring events inside the union that have been expressed by students.

Chartwells, food service provider at Arkansas Tech, will operate a smoothie and gourmet coffee station inside the Hull Building student union.

ATU students with a meal plan will be able to spend their declining balance on the food and drink items available for purchase at the smoothie and gourmet coffee station, which will be named as part of a forthcoming student contest.

The south side of the student union provides a view of Thone Stadium at Buerkle Field, home of Arkansas Tech football.

“It will be an amazing place to watch football games when the Wonder Boys return to competition,” said Lairamore. “You can sit on that mezzanine and look out over the entire football stadium.”

The Hull Building student union is also home to a patio that will provide an outdoor seating option with fire pit.

As the ATU Department of Campus Life looks forward to a post-pandemic world, Lairamore said that she and her colleagues are seeking out the students’ voice in developing events and activities for the Hull Building student union.

“College students now have so much they are juggling,” said Lairamore. “We need to consider and develop programming for every segment of our student population.

“I believe this union will bring a different dynamic to campus and expose our students to new opportunities for engagement. We need to hear from the students. We want them to tell us what they want in terms of programming in the union,” Lairamore said.