Hello fellow Badgers!
As of 8 p.m. Monday, we have begun to leave our legacy on this campus. The Student Union Initiative has been a project that I have been working on since fall 2005. This initiative provided us a momentous and insurmountable opportunity of a lifetime — and we students came through!
We have voted to continue the Wisconsin tradition of being progressive activists, innovative pioneers and forward-thinkers. The Wisconsin Union embodies all of these characteristics and provides a safe space for the forum of ideas. The Wisconsin Union was the first facility with a college campus blood donation center. The Wisconsin Union provided the first "Craftshop" of its kind at a college campus. The Wisconsin Union was the first organization on campus to require a living wage for its workers, and the Wisconsin Union will be the first LEED-rated, sustainable green building in Wisconsin and in the Big Ten.
This is a defining moment in the history of the University of Wisconsin. We students have the opportunity, or moreover, the responsibility, to pave the path for future Badgers. Not only do we get to preserve the rich and wonderful history of the 1920s, but we also get to innovate, prepare for the future and attack global warming. We also have the capacity to invent a new home for the south side of campus. I am fully confident that a new and improved Wisconsin Union will only add invaluable character and energy to our campus; when you walk into the Memorial Union, into a room like the Rathskeller, you can just feel the tradition that you are a part of. Now we get to create something timeless and wonderful on the south end of campus.
The extent to which students came out in support of this important project blew me away. It has renewed my faith in our generation that we were able to look beyond our $48 or $96 and make sacrifices for the sake of posterity. The Wisconsin Union development director and staff will continue to campaign for alumni gifts and support for the rest of the project. In fact, the Wisconsin Union is dedicated to running a thorough and successful development campaign with hopes to exceed our goals and reduce student fees in the future.
So what are the next steps? There is a formal design committee that consists of nine students, two UW staff, two faculty and two alumni. In addition, there will be many subcommittees and open forums to gather input, ideas and feedback from anyone who wishes to be involved. The design committee will convene within the next two weeks and will then begin to design the first phase of Memorial Union and the new south campus union. With that said, there will be innumerable occasions in the weeks, months and years ahead to be actively engaged in the planning process. Students, staff, faculty, alumni and Union members will all be called upon to help shape the future of our program and our facilities. Please check out the website www.unionvote.wisc.edu for updates about the design committee and its progress.
In the meantime, I want to thank each of you who stepped forward during this process to support the future of the Wisconsin Union. All of the registered student organizations, campus departments, individual campaign managers, Hoofers and WUD members, and everyone who voted in support of the plan — we couldn't have done it without you. Thank you! Whether you actively served on a committee, championed a particular cause during the campaign project or gently provided your support along the way — the Wisconsin Union thanks you!
Shayna Hetzel is the student president of the Wisconsin Union and a senior majoring in political science. She is also a master's candidate at the La Follette School of Public Affairs.