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SGA discusses Blue Wall renovations and budget grants

Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

At Monday night’s weekly meeting, senators of the Student Government Association received a detailed presentation regarding the renovations of Blue Wall that lay ahead in the near future. In addition, the Senate debated the distribution of budgets for groups in need on campus.

David Eichstaedt, the director of Retail Dining Services, along with a number of other important figures dealing with the renovation of Blue Wall, joined the SGA this Monday to discuss the upcoming plans for the Campus Center’s dining space.

“It’s over fifty years old, it’s pretty archaic,” Eichstaedt said to start off the presentation. “We’ve really outgrown the space in the Campus Center.”

Currently the Campus Center is home to Blue Wall and a number of other retail dining options here at the University.

The purpose of Blue Wall renovations lies in “making the students happy,” , according to Eichstaedt,

“We want to make sure you have a comfortable place to eat,” he said.

With that being said, Eichstaedt and his team of builders, architects and directors introduced the tentative plans for Blue Wall in the next few months.

Construction is expected to begin on Dec. 13, immediately after a majority of the students leave campus. The builders intend to be finished by Aug. 15 of next year. According to Monday night’s presentation, they plan to reduce noise surrounding construction by completing as much of the heavy work as possible during the period in which students are gone for winter break.

The efforts that go into renovating Blue Wall aim not only to provide students with a comfortable space to eat in the Campus Center, but also to provide a source for student to obtain fresh food.

“We want to serve you fresh food, sustainably,” said Ken Toong, executive director of Auxiliary Enterprises.

The new Blue Wall will offer many of its former dining options, but will also expand. The renovated space will include a Star Ginger, a People’s Organic Coffee and a salad area, sushi area and grill, among many other options.

The presentation Monday night also shed light on some of the architectural features that would be incorporated in the renovated Blue Wall.

“The goal is non-institutional,” said Dan Rath, an architect working on the Blue Wall Renovation project. Rather than highlighting the space as a college dining hall, Rath hopes the space will offer a different value to students through its architectural details. For example, stainless curtains are one of many interior accents that Rath and others hope will add to the space.

“This gives it sort of an upscale feel, as opposed to a food court,” Rath said.

The new Blue Wall is also designed to keep in mind space maximization.

“There will be a lot of cool seating where you’ll be maximizing eating in a small place,” said Eichstaedt, who emphasized the importance in utilizing space in the Campus Center.

While construction is under way, food will still be offered at the Campus Center, only on a smaller scale. RSO tabling will also still take place during and after construction is completed.

Senators at Monday night’s meeting also agreed to grant the UMass rowing team a budget request. The President and Treasurer of the rowing team joined Senators Monday night to explain the team’s cause.

Last May the rowing team had one of its engines stolen. These engines were used for the boats the coaches used to train and supervise the team.

“We have 40 guys on the team and therefore have four or five boats on the water at a time,” the team president said. “I would be much better if we had two coach launchers working.”

More than anything, the rowing team sought the money for safety reasons. The Student Senate agreed to grant the it this budget request.

At Monday’s meeting, Senators also noted the hard work of Chairwoman Savannah Van Leuvan-Smith and other members of the Diversity and Student Engagement Committee, who helped in the planning of Lobby Day that took place last Tuesday. As a whole, senators agree that the lobbying for House Bill H.1088 and Senate Bill S.588 were a success. Senators plan on participating in another Lobby Day in the spring.

Katrina Borofski can be reached at kborofski@umass.edu.

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