Extreme makeover: Union edition

By Kirsty-Louise Hunt

As the new academic year gets into full swing, students at the University of Strathclyde have returned from their summer break to discover some major cosmetic improvements have been made to the Union building.

Over the past year, the Student Union ran the “Refresh Your Union” campaign where they asked for student opinions on what they would like to have re-done to freshen up the campus. The Union ran online surveys, promotions on social media, held one-to-one discussion with students and introduced the ‘Change One Thing’ board.

From the feedback gathered over the course of the year, a strategy to modernise the union was developed, agreed and approved by the trustees.

The bulk of the work took place over summer.

The renovation has seen major improvements to the toilets on levels 3, 4 and 6 as well as the installation of new TV Screens in The Scene on level 4 which now show music videos and information from the Union social media accounts.

The menu available in The Scene has also had a revamp this year, catering for a wider range of dietary requirements and providing a more efficient service.

Stairwells and walls have been re-painted and floor numbers and direction have been added to each level to minimise confusion, for both freshers and older students alike, when going through access points to Levels 7, 9 and 10.

Photo: Letty David

Other changes include a complete overhaul of the Sports Union area on Level 7 in order to accommodate new staff members with an open plan space.

The main entrance to the Union building has also been updated to include a white wall and graphics displaying what the Union is all about and who the Executive are, with contact information and descriptions of what they can do for students.

The addition of low energy LED lighting will bring the Union in line to meet environmental targets for low wattage and more efficient lighting.

Union President Kwaku Adjei said: “The recent changes mean that the Union now has a more welcoming feel for everyone when they first walk through the door.

Union President Kwaku Adjei said: “The recent changes mean that the Union now has a more welcoming feel for everyone when they first walk through the door.’

“The toilets were an issue that constantly came up on the ‘Change One Thing’ board, which is why we decided to strip out and replace the toilets in levels 3 & 4 and touch up the level 6 toilets. The toilets now look much fresher and cleaner and since the improvements, toilets haven’t come up since on the change one thing board.

“It shows that the voices of students are being  heard and that when we work together, we can improve the Union to enhance the student experience.’’

Karine Moore, second year English and Politics student, commented on the new look: “I feel like the renovations to the Union give it a fresh and clean look, and make it an enjoyable place to hang out while at University.”

The next phase of the improvements to the Union is going to be the Gameszone Bar on Level 3, with work expected to start prior to the winter break with the new look being completed for early March 2014.

The Union is not the only University building to have undergone some changes over the summer months, with the Library – located in the Curran building on Cathedral street – now boasting increased term-time opening hours from 7am to Midnight from Monday to Friday and 9am-9pm on weekends.

Self-service machines have also been improved, making borrowing and returning books easier and faster, and a redecoration has taken place throughout the library, most notably on Levels 4 and 5 which have been refreshed with white paint and accent colours to reinforce the zoning policy (pink-silent, green-discussion and service points).

In other improvements, a temporary card machine has been installed at the turnstiles to make it easier for students to get into the Library when they have forgotten their student card and over 300 PCs have been replaced.

Commenting on the changes, Stuart Brough, Director of Information Services, said: “We very much value (student) feedback regarding our services, and this summer has been a time to turn ‘you saids’ into ‘we dids’.

“A lot has changed in the Library thanks to (student) comments, with some changes being easier to spot than others.”

Students can give their thoughts on what they think of the changes at www.strath.ac.uk/is/feedback