Entertaining options lost in the renovation

Since the approval of the Coffman Union renovation a number of unanswered questions have surfaced. When will Coffman be closed and for how long? What will happen to all the groups and programs that rely on the student union? These questions remain unanswered primarily because Coffman officials do not yet have plans in place. It is time for Coffman officials to start seriously considering how to accommodate all concerned groups.
It seems the only definites officials can offer are the renovation model and the cost of the project. They remain silent when it comes to the actual schedule of renovations and the temporary relocation of facilities during construction. It is important to realize that there are many people who rely on Coffman now and will be looking for its resources during the renovation. Resources currently available to students must not entirely disappear during the renovation.
Because the University is largely a commuter campus, Coffman is an essential place for students to go to hang out. It offers a variety of activities, ranging from local music to Christian groups. Coffman also offers places to study and a food court for students without meal plans. These are valuable to commuter students who spend a lot of time on campus but have nowhere else to go.
In addition to the more visible student cultural centers housed in Coffman, such as the Africana, La Raza and Asian American, there are many lesser known organizations. The Campus Involvement Center; the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender program office; Minnesota Student Association offices; and the Panhellenic Council rely on Coffman as a meeting place and headquarters. Coffman has promised to help these centers find a place to relocate and advertise their new locations, but the union has not taken the initiative to help these groups, even though they might be moved as early as the end of fall semester. Before the budget plan went through, Coffman officials should have had at least a vague idea of where these essential resources would go.
Another issue that arises with the closing of Coffman is the game room. Although the bowling alley cannot be relocated, what about the pool tables and the arcade games? Coffman Director Maggie Towle has said, “Students will be able to use the game room in St. Paul.” Yet, rather than sending students over to the St. Paul campus, Coffman officials should look at available spaces around the Minneapolis campus. For example, in Dinkytown, the site of the old Gray’s Campus Drug remains vacant and, on the West Bank, there is room in Willey Hall near the Katherine E. Nash Gallery. The majority of students who currently use the game room will not travel to the St. Paul campus just for a game of pool or Ms. Pac-Man. In order to best serve the students, the game room should be moved somewhere reasonably close to its present location.
There are many resources Coffman offers that currently have nowhere to go during the renovation. It would have been more effective if Coffman officials had presented a plan for relocation earlier in the renovation process. It is disconcerting to think that there is currently no place for all of the valuable resources that Coffman offers.