Central Connecticut State University
“The Student Center”
Name of institution: Central Connecticut State University
Location: New Britain, CT
Full time enrollment: 7,925 undergrads and grads
Statistics including square feet, meeting rooms, building staff, website, year it was constructed, floors, offices/departments, etc.
Square feet: 84,000
Meeting Rooms: 8
Building Staff: 4 Professional Staff, 3 Graduate Interns, approx. 55 student employees
Year built: 1964, Additions/Renovations in 1972, 1993, 2000
Offices/Departments: Student Center Operations, Student Activities/Leadership Development, Card Office, WFCS Radio Station, Women’s Center, Mosaic Center, LGBT Center, Student Government Association, Central Activities Network, Graphic Design Office and approximately 27 club or staff offices.
Retail Space: Barnes & Noble Campus Bookstore, Sodexo Food Service – Sandella’s, The Fresh Grille, Pandini’s, Starbucks
Programming Space: Alumni Complex (large multi-purpose ballroom and annex), Semesters (café area), Seven Centuries Courtyard
Recent Renovations: Building (2004), LGBT Center (2009), Alumni Hall lighting system (2010), Breakers Gameroom Gaming Systems (additions, 2011)
What is the history of your student union/campus center and what unique significance does this building hold for your campus?
It is the living room of the campus. Students feel comfortable here, and they treat it like their own home. It is the major gathering and programming space on campus, and is the location most commuters consider “theirs”. Commuter dining services, lounges, media and general services are all here for them. During the late 60’s and early 70’s it was the place to gather to protest and “sit in”. In the 80’s we were one of the top places to buy a beer in the State of Connecticut, in the 90’s we met town meeting style to decide what to do to learn from the Rodney King beating and from that came the MOSAIC Center. And from the physical facility, you know we are either the art building or the Student Center in the middle of campus.
What aspects of the building are distinct to the needs of your student body?
Several aspects of the Student Center really appeal to our commuter students. The Devil’s Den and Semesters dining area have four different dining options and seating for those grabbing a bite between classes. Three microwaves make it easy for those who cook for themselves to heat up lunch or dinner on the go.
Couches and other lounge furniture are scattered around the Student Center, creating that “living room” feel we strive for. In certain lounge spaces, advertising and postering are prohibited so that students have a less distracting environment in which to study or meet with others.
Results of a survey about the Student Center services showed that students were looking for more gaming consoles. This spring, we were able to add two PlayStation3’s and various games to our Breakers Gameroom collection.
Other great resources for CCSU students in the Student Center include a full mail room, lockers rented by day or semester, the Mosaic Center and the LGBT Center.
What are unique features of your physical building?
Some of the fun and unique aspects of our Student Center include:
- An ellipse pattern is found throughout the building in the carpet, mezzanines, staircases and the copper drum.
- A copper drum ties the building in with the rest of the copper clad roofs on other campus buildings.
- All recent space additions are either in the drum, or in angled window curtain spaces on the exterior of the building.
- Many interior locations were opened to the second floor to create a large open feeling in the building.
- Numerous large windows allow for best use of natural lighting in the building.
- Old windows from the original building were used in interior office walls and new windows were added to the exterior of the building reflecting the design of the old windows.
- The windows in the Devil’s Den and Semesters dining areas have a subtle blue tint, utilizing school colors and showcasing Blue Devil spirit!
- Blue Devil spirit is also evident in the appearance of an anatomically correct blue devil statue in the Devil’s Den.
- Scattered around the Student Center are pieces of artwork and sculptures. The Student Center is owner to the first piece of art on campus grounds!
- Guests enter the building through castle-like entry ways.
What are the biggest limitations of your building?
When the Student Center was renovated in 2000, the new building opened approximately 40,000 square feet short, according to our enrollment. We have certainly expressed our need for more space, hoping to more easily support the programming needs of 130+ clubs and organizations, university departments and outside clients. Our Student Union Board of Governors has made efforts to reevaluate the way that student organization space is utilized, and accommodate the most clubs possible without over crowding the office space we have available.
When it comes to staffing, we are unable to fill two full-time positions. Our Central Reservations Office staff is made up of one event coordinator and two student assistants, who are overseen by our Assistant Director. They are busy managing 250+bookings each week without the support of a second event coordinator. Our team of approximately 50 student employees is fantastic, supporting the operation of the building each day and enabling the professional staff to take on those extra responsibilities from the second open position, an Assistant to the Director.
What are unique features of your staffing procedures and maintenance? What are the staffing operations for your building and what division do you fall under?
The department of The Student Center is under the umbrella of Student Affairs, of which we report to the Vice President of Student Affairs. Our department is comprised of a Director, an Associate Director, 2 Assistant Directors, an Assistant to the Director position which has been frozen, an Administrative Assistant, someone who handles our fiscal accounting, and 2 maintainers. Our Graduate Interns are also an important part of our team, and oversee our student employees and managers, and coordinate the students’ training opportunities.
Our main function is to be service friendly and accommodating to all of our patrons, and do so mainly with the support of our student employee program “STARs”. Our student employees are evaluated under the STAR model, where we focus on teaching them Service, Team, Autonomy and Responsibility. They work in various areas such as Center Managers, Tech Services, Setup and Maintenance, Information Desk, Reception Desk, Graphic and Web Design and Breakers Game Room.
We also oversee the Central Reservations Office, which is a “one stop shop” for student organizations, campus departments and outside clients requesting space across campus, have a liaison role with food services and custodial, and play many roles around campus serving on many committees such as Student Conduct, Orientation, Presidents Advisory Council on Alcohol and Tobacco, University Planning and Budget Committee, etc.
How is your building used for campus programming and what is the philosophy behind how it is implemented?
Our philosophy in The Student Center is that it is just that, student centered. Any program that takes place in the building is to have a connection with the University mission. Our Central Reservations Office plays a pivotal role in this, and has a very close relationship with our student organizations, allowing them to reserve space 3 years out for their meetings and for their events. Major campus events, such as Orientation, Advising, and Open House, can reserve space 5 years in advance. Campus departments can also reserve space three years out, leaving external groups, who only make up 8% of our yearly reservations, the ability to reserve space 1 year out only if they have an on campus sponsor.
Our major large programming space is Alumni Hall, a large banquet facility where we host our formal cultural balls, conferences, dinners and recognition programs. Beliln Gallery, a smaller room attached to Alumni Hall is great for workshops, lectures and small banquet lunches and dinners, Semesters, which was once a pub, is a dining area where students typically eat lunch during the day, and can sit back and listen to an acoustic performer. In the evening, we have used that space for poetry expos, debates, concerts, our weekly late night program, and more. We also have 8 meeting rooms of various sizes and styles, and some outdoor space as well.
Feel free to take a look at the space on our website here: stdctr.ccsu.edu
Additional information about your institution:
Semesters Café, a programming and dining retail space, was at one point, the campus pub! CCSU’s pub was the leading alcohol seller in New Britain! Times have definitely changed!
The 1849 room (our only second floor meeting room) has had some mysterious “happenings”! Student employees have shared stories of chairs being scattered around the room at random times (keep in mind, rooms are locked when not in use), footsteps have been heard in the stairwell leading up to that room, a cell phones was missing and mysteriously re-appeared in the room, and one of the tables (which is stationary and does not get moved by our crew) was found in the hall outside the room! The ironic thing is that this is our nicest meeting room, and it is in high demand, so our employees find themselves having some fun with the eerie things that they’ve encountered!