Student input sought for Coffman renovations

by Tracy Ellingson

Students might not find Abercrombie & Fitch or Gap clothing stores in a newly renovated Coffman Memorial Union, but they will likely find other retail businesses in the union to make their lives a little more convenient.
“We can’t have student space (in Coffman) unless we have some revenue-generating operations in the union,” the president of Coffman Memorial Union’s Board of Governors, Andre Viktora, told the Minnesota Student Association Tuesday at the group’s biweekly forum.
Viktora and Coffman Memorial Union Director Maggie Towle addressed the forum to share preliminary plans for Coffman renovations, which are expected to begin in July 1998 and will probably take about two years to complete. Some of these plans include bringing in more commercial businesses such as a video rental store and Copies on Campus, which already have space in the Coffman basement.
Towle said open forums provide students a great opportunity to give input. And, she added, student input is especially important during the early stage of the project in order to keep it moving. The board hopes to finalize its plans for the union in the next six to nine months and hire an architect by fall.
“When you’re doing such a large renovation as this,” Towle said, “it’s not going to necessarily be a consensus-building process because not all of us are going to get exactly what we want.
“But,” Towle added, “the main thing is to key in on student services.”
The only concern that students raised during Tuesday’s forum was whether or not the renovations would actually occur.
“I have a little concern about the open discussion,” said Ben Powers, MSA member and College of Biological Sciences senior.
Powers compared the board’s request for student input to a request the University’s transportation service made last year when the department was considering making changes to the campus busing system. Powers said little changed in the bus system last year, despite student involvement.
“Unfortunately,” Towle responded, “in the end the almighty dollar is what’s going to drive this project.”