TSU opening moved to October; CFA to occupy Western State College library

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(Gretchen Daley / Daily Titan)
The new stairs installed in the TSU expansion include wide steps for students to sit and relax on, as well as outlets for charging convenience according to McDoniel. (Gretchen Davey / Daily Titan)

Cal State Fullerton’s Titan Student Union (TSU) expansion project that began in July 2015 is expected to be finished earlier than projected, opening new lounge space for students by the beginning of the upcoming fall semester.

Though Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) originally advertised that the construction would be done by spring 2017 due to the possibility of El Niño rains and other delays, the expansion is now expected to be completed by September 2016.

“When the contractor bid the project originally, they said they could do it by September or October 2016, and nobody believed them,” ASI Director of Administrations and interim TSU Director for the past year Carol McDoniel said. “We’re actually a little bit ahead of schedule.”

The project will add 26,000 square feet of space to the TSU and will include three floors that have lounge space and other components. The ground floor will include the relocated Information Desk, the upper floor will have a new board room for the ASI Board and the Titan Student Center’s Governing Boards, and the bottom floor will have a meeting room and food service such as a potential Starbucks.

“The main purpose (of the construction) is public space. We actually did a survey with students about two to three years ago now, and then we had a consultant come in and look at our current space… and the number one need that came up was lounge space,” McDoniel said. “(CSUF) is a commuter campus, so the main thing students want is a place to sit between classes that’s air conditioned and comfortable.”

Replacing the Information Desk where it currently is located will be new bathrooms, including a gender-neutral, family-friendly bathroom. The bathrooms are being constructed in accordance with building standards whenever square footage is added to a structure, according to McDoniel.

The construction project has also included refurbishing the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems as well as the re sprinklers in the old building, built in 1976, after the State of California Fire Marshal said they needed updating.

“That’s mainly what’s been going on this summer, finishing the framing and doing the electrical, installing lights and painting,” McDoniel said. “The other thing they’ve been working on this summer is HVAC: Heating and Air Conditioning, sprinklers and safety systems.”

The new expansion will have a lot of open space, acting like a large public lounge and lobby for the TSU.

“When you come into the building you’ll be able to see all three levels because it’s a three floor atrium and there are skylights,” McDoniel said. “The new space will be very bright and have windows everywhere.”

Though there hasn’t been much complaint about the inconvenience of getting around the construction itself, McDoniel does say there have been questions raised about the use of funding for the expansion.

However, she believes people simply don’t understand where the money is coming from.

“The only money we’re spending is money that’s collected from the Titan Student Center fee,” a part of tuition students pay that can only be used for TSU programs and services according to McDoniel. “That money can’t be spent on things like the library or classrooms because it’s a student centers’ fee.”

McDoniel also added that no student fees were raised to pay for the project. Instead, the money comes from a “healthy reserve” that’s been saved up over the last 20 years or so by previous administrations and student leaders.

“Every student that has come here for the past 20 years and paid fees has essentially paid for this project,” McDoniel said. “So I hope they come back and see it, since they paid for it.”

The grand opening ceremony is currently planned for Oct. 20, even if the new part of the TSU is open to the public before then.

“I think if (the expansion) brings more students into the building so they feel welcome, that’s really my goal,” McDoniel said. “By providing this extra space hopefully we’ll get more people in the building to learn more about what’s being offered. Then, the more students are involved, they are more likely to graduate.”

Expansion has also been continuing at other parts of the campus over the summer. The Western State College of Law Buildings at 1111 N. State College Blvd, which were purchased by the CSUF Auxiliary Services Corporation (ASC) in 2012, will be available soon to house ASC and other divisions.

ASC Director of Property Development James Alexander says the Western State College purchase included two buildings, a library and a four story building.

“We’ve been working on the build-out of new tenant improvements with the library (over the summer),” Alexander said. “That entails new offices, new HVAC equipment, new lighting, new alarm systems and new sprinklers.”

While ASC is an entity separate from the college, CSUF’s Office of Research Development and the Center for Demographic Research will also eventually move into the Western State College library. The four story building required a seismic retrofit and will hold the University Extended Education (UEE) and IT departments around Jan. 1, 2017.

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