Commons renovations paused until spring break

Commons renovations paused until spring break
Students study in the Viking Grounds in the Commons. Photo by Ryleigh Tupper.

Renovations of the Morrison Commons will start after spring break and continue through the summer after being delayed by pending discussions regarding the final renovation plan. The proposed renovations may leave student groups like the Union Board of Governors without a programming space.

ASA President Sara Alhasnawi said at an ASA meeting on Sunday, Feb. 19 that  Sub Connection will be closed permanently and Chick-fil-A will take its place. Ole’s Outlet and a classroom space will replace the Back Alley. She has seen some blueprints, but the designs will not be finalized until after the student forums.

Two forums will be held to discuss renovations. One, which was scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 22, will be rescheduled because of snow. The other is set for Feb. 28 at 4 p.m.

The renovations were previously expected to begin January of 2023 but remain in the planning and discussion phase of development, according to Augustana CFO and executive vice president Shannan Nelson. Nelson declined to comment on this story.

Sophomore Norah Grace DeBoer, future UBG co-head governor, said she is concerned about what changes to the space might mean for their events, which are usually held in the Back Alley.

“I appreciate that they’re giving the Commons an update, but at the same time they’re really limiting students’ spaces,” DeBoer said.

DeBoer said the UBG could look into using the Elmen Center as a planning space instead, but she doesn’t want to interfere with Recreational Services’ plans for the building. She is also concerned about students being able to find events at different locations

“Our alternative was to highlight different buildings on campus,” DeBoer said. “The tricky part with that is that oftentimes people get confused with us just being in the Back Alley.”

Despite these worries, some students are excited about the Commons renovations, so long as student opinions are heard.

“Augustana is a growing school with growing needs for spaces,” senior Tatiana Chance, a member of the student advisory board, said. “Creativity will always be an outlet that Augustana supports. We just need to be vocal in what we want the space to look like.”

In a meeting with UBG head governors for both this year and next year, Nelson said Campus Safety will still be in the Commons building contrary to previous plans.

DeBoer said she was glad Campus Safety would remain in the Commons and that their presence helped establish security at UBG’s events. However, DeBoer also said she hopes for a better way to close off the event space in the new plan.