Construction Delays Hamper Sales for Student Center

ON CAMPUS — As students new and old flock to UCSD for
Welcome Week and the beginning of Fall Quarter, they can’t help but be
frustrated by the continued University Centers construction. Unlike the
subtle work being done on peripheral buildings, the current expansion
and renovation of both Price Center and Student Center have created
significant obstacles for students frequenting the areas.
Specifically, Student Center construction has blocked many paths to and
through facilities. With these walkways fenced off seemingly
indefinitely, foot traffic has greatly decreased — and businesses in
the area are feeling the sting. Though students familiar with the
center are generally excited for the renovations to be completed, the
question now is: When?
Continued delays and apparent poor communication between contractors
and university administrators have caused the project to lag. As a
result, businesses and services in Student Center are nearly
inaccessible, and students are left wandering what was once a
comparatively compact and easy-to-navigate space, confusedly asking for
When the majority of students left campus last spring, they left a maze
of fences blocking off portions of the Student Center. While summer
work included the completion of the first stage of the center’s
facelift, according to University Centers Director Paul Terzino,
students are returning to find things sadly similar to the way they
left them.
According to Terzino, the first stage included renovations for the
General Store Co-op, A.S. Soft Reserves, A.S. Lecture Notes, the UCSD
Bike Shop, the Food Co-op, Student-Run Television and two unisex
bathrooms. But Student Center inhabitants will notice that not only are
some of these changes still incomplete, but that those that are
complete were finished before summer even began.
In addition to the completion of the unisex bathrooms, General Store
and Bike Shop employees had already moved into their refurbished spaces
before the end of Spring Quarter. Renovations to the Food Co-op’s
kitchen and store room were completed over summer, but with the low
store visibility and severely reduced foot traffic caused by the
construction surrounding both of its entrances, the Co-op has taken
some of the hardest financial hits, and is currently operating with a
substantially limited stock. (In fact, a large chunk of remaining
traffic these businesses have received is actually from frustrated
students trying to create their own walkways through the shops.) And
though the structure housing Soft Reserves, Lecture Notes and the new
home of SRTV may be complete, access to these resources continues to be
blocked off entirely.
When asked about the limited Student Center access, both Terzino and
Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Life Gary R. Ratcliff said that
though much of the area continues to be blocked, at least the central
walkway would be opened up by Sept. 24, when undergraduates returned to
campus for the start of Welcome Week.
Unfortunately, this was not the case.
Clearly there’s disconnect between the guys wearing hard hats and
administrative deadlines and rhetoric. And even different contractors
had different answers to the walkway question: Some indicated the
walkway was to be finished Sept. 27 at the earliest. Still, others
estimated the first week of October.
Terzino also indicated that the second stage — which would open up the
rest of the Student Center passageways — is near completion and should
finish in October, with the final touches to the center wrapping up in
December. But with October only a few short weeks away — and
contractors gossiping that their load will continue well into the
school year — its hard to imagine that the much-needed end to
construction is really so near.
Despite frustration with all the construction, employees and habitual
visitors of the center remain optimistic about the renovations. The
eventual plaza and reopening of walkways will hopefully bring more
traffic into the space and the project’s completion will also mean a
permanent spot for currently floating resources like SRTV and
Groundwork Books. Unfortunately, everyday of delay is more and more
financially crippling for the campus’ vibrant student-run businesses.
The key now is to end the continual holdup plaguing the project and get the Student Center fully functioning and back in action.