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Otterbein students pull a tie in decision for campus center glow up

Student opinion is split straight down the middle for possible campus center designs, as the date to break ground quickly approaches

With the goal of creating a new hub for student life, the Center for Student Engagement gave students an opportunity during lunch to share their feedback on the atmosphere and design of the new campus center. The event resulted in a tie among roughly 200 students that participated.

At the event, students were presented with idea boards that included images, materials and colors to help visualize the possibilities for the new space. Students were then encouraged to share their input by voting for a certain feel regarding the updated area.

The tie in votes will be broken by future online surveys and campus events that will aim to collect student feedback.

Blaine Bishop, a senior double majoring in public relations and health communications with a minor in journalism and mass media communications, is serving on the renovation committee as a student and dining advisory board representative.

Bishop said that while the decision-making “may seem kind of one-sided on the outside” the students are the ones who are directing the focus for this project. Survey results are currently being withheld to reassure students that there is still time to share design preferences.

“We are at the critical moment in the renovation where students, if they provide us with input, we can listen to that and we can use that to shape the future of the project,” said Melissa Gilbert, Dean of Student Engagement.

In the meantime, students have agreed upon a few factors that are already being considered in the renovation decision-making process. The first factor that students find important is the accessibility of allergy-friendly food in the new dining hall.

A research study that collected data from universities across the country showed that 82% of students with allergies attend events where food is present but choose not to eat.

Along with allergy-friendly food, students want convenient, healthy, grab-and-go options made available for those with busy schedules.

The renovation committee has been working with the architects and the construction company to accommodate these preferences. The updated dining hall will include a multiple station set-up featuring various kinds of food for students to choose from.

Phase one of the four-phase renovation project updated the entry, lobby and the bookstore. Phase two will first target the outside of the building by adding a glass and brick stairwell that will lead to the dining hall. This will begin soon after spring classes end.

The kitchen renovation will take up the latter half of phase two and is set to begin in August. When students return in the fall, the Cardinal’s Nest will be under construction. The first floor of the campus center will remain open and accessible to student dining needs.

The plan is also to have pop-up dining experiences around campus with two more notable locations being the Point and the Otter Bean.

The renovation team is expecting the project to finish in January 2025.

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