ASUC Student Union proposes $3.5M of Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union renovations

Kavya Narendra-Babu/Staff

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The ASUC Student Union Board of Directors has proposed renovations to the first two levels of the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union for $3.5 million, according to UC Berkeley alumna Katie Latimer, who attended the board’s meeting June 27.

The remodeling is intended to make up for the deficits of the ASUC Student Union that have been there for the past two years, according to a presentation created by Daryl Ansel, executive director of the ASUC Student Union and associate dean of students.

ASUC Senate members, however, have expressed concern about how the proposal will be funded.

“(A) larger conversation is to be held; we are concerned where the money comes from. We want to clarify where does it come from, precisely, because there is a lack of backing of the financial proposal,” said ASUC Executive Vice President Hung Huynh. “Nothing has been initiated yet, (and) nothing will be initiated until we have student input there.”

Ansell said during the meeting that ASUC Student Union aims to raise revenue to $500,000, whereas current revenue is only $150,000. The proposed renovations ought to increase the number of daily retail transactions from about 1,600 to 5,200 — a 72 percent increase — and could convert one-third of visitors to customers, Ansel added.

Huynh said the ASUC Student Union has been facing deficits for the past two years. Most of the revenues come from retail, but according to Huynh, these revenues are insufficient.

According to campus spokesperson Adam Ratliff, the ASUC Student Union conducted reviews and surveys to gauge student feedback in order to evaluate the newly constructed campus buildings and to improve their usage. Ratliff said the results showed a demand for additional student seating and more options for food, among other needs.

ASUC President Alexander Wilfert said the ASUC wants to reduce the cost of the proposal while making room for the construction of a “campus kitchen” and more ”student hubs.”

“At this time we are in early stages of discussions, and there are no specific plans for renovations nor dollar amounts allocated for renovations,” Ratliff said in an email. “To reiterate, no project has been approved to proceed.”

The proposal also includes a game room on the first floor, which would total up to $532,064, according to a presentation given at the meeting. In addition, a dining room renovation would amount to about $1.1 million.

“We … raised concerns at the lack of a viable financial model for this renovation,” Wilfert said. “While the plan in concept allows for much-needed study space for students and more accessible food options, we can’t move forward on a project that financially burdens students and the ASUC.”

Contact Jan Schuermann at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @Jan_182.