The University of Kansas Student Senate plans to have their new student engagement center filled with lounges, couches and study space for students by August 2019.
The 5,000-square-foot center will be located underneath the Burge Union and will include KU Info, a lounge for graduate students, an esports lounge, an innovation lounge, a seminar area and a director’s office. A $3.25 fee will be added to each student’s fees for the 2019-20 school year, but once construction of the center is complete, the additional cost for students will decrease. The project will cost roughly $800,000 – not including the additional costs of technology products.
Since December 2018, KU Student Body President, senior Noah Ries, and Chief of Staff, sophomore Zach Thomason, have been working with the rest of Senate to create the student engagement center to meet all students’ needs.
KU Info, a service designed to be an information source for students that has been on campus for about 50 years, will be at the entrance to the center. The service was at risk of being shut down due to budgetary constraints. Along the walls will be a timeline of important dates commemorating Student Senate’s progress for their 50th year anniversary.
Thomason believes the center will be a great success among students of all grade levels and will be especially appealing to graduate students by providing them with a space to grade, meet with students and relax.
“We don’t always meet the needs of graduate students on this campus,” Thomson said. “So [it’s all about] being able to serve them in a way that is unique and provides resources they’ve currently been denied.”
In addition to the graduate student lounge, Thomason and Director of the KU Memorial Union, David Mucci, believes the esports lounge with high quality computers and monitors will be popular among students. Both agree that gaming is a quickly growing community and if KU doesn’t offer these gaming facilities, students might choose other schools in the future.
“I’m fascinated by how much activity and interest [gaming] generates,” Mucci said. “And it’ll be interesting to see how [the esports lounge] generates activity for people who are gamers.”
Senior Jack Lischer plans on attending KU next year and is looking forward to having a new place to study and interact with friends.
“I’m just looking for a place where I can get away from the distractions of the house and get my homework done,” Lischer said.
While Thomason understands not every student will visit the center its first year open, he believes that eventually going to the Student Engagement Center to work on a project or watch TV will become a part of KU students’ experiences.