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Clemson prepares for Johnstone demolition, CUSG to move to Sirrine

CUSG+President+Caroline+Avinger+told+CUSG+senate+members+they+must+vacate+Johnstone+by+Nov.+15.
Ashleigh Snyder // Photo Editor
CUSG President Caroline Avinger told CUSG senate members they must vacate Johnstone by Nov. 15.

Two years after the Clemson board of trustees approved the demolition of Johnstone Hall, Clemson’s student union, plans are finally set to begin this December.

The project is expected to cost $16 million and completely extinguish the approximately 132,500-square-foot Johnstone Hall and Union Building Complex, as well as smaller facilities associated with University Facilities, The Tiger reported last year.

Multiple organizations that are currently housed in the student union, including the Clemson Undergraduate Student Senate, are being relocated due to the building’s demolition.

Speaking to the Senate on Monday, CUSG President Caroline Avinger told her members that they need to vacate their offices and chambers in the building by Nov. 15.

CUSG will be temporarily relocated to Sirrine Hall, which provides the organization with four offices on the fourth floor along with room 412, which will serve as a shared space with the Graduate Student Government, according to a Clemson University spokesperson.

Avinger told The Tiger that she is optimistic about the move and is confident the organization can make the new space work for the time being.

Following the completion of the ongoing Memorial Auditorium project in Tillman Hall, the University plans to relocate CUSG to Hendrix, a Clemson spokesperson told The Tiger.

“Renovation of the space for CUSG is anticipated to begin in January 2025,” the spokesperson said. “The renovated space in Hendrix will offer a new home for CUSG adjacent to an expanded Tiger Den and the future home for the Center for Student Leadership and Engagement.”

Avinger is thankful that the Senate will still be able to operate on campus and has had positive interactions with University administrators.

“As long as we have a place on campus that allows us to meet and do what we need to do, that’s all I’m asking for,” she told The Tiger. “The administrators that I’ve talked to, Dr. Miller, Dr. Poole, they’ve all been really supportive of the third places committee and finding a space for CUSG to meet.”

However, one senator expressed her concern about their move from their current “home.”

“I come here every day, and to not even know that, in a couple of weeks, I’m going to be out of a space to do work and out of a place to hold senate and out of a space to host other CUSG events, it’s crazy,” Senator Hannah Rizik of the Academic Affairs Committee told The Tiger after the meeting on Monday.

Another senator is adamant about the union’s ability to foster new ideas to improve school policies.

This space “causes a lot of ideas for collaboration. The new proposed bill to change the AI policy here just came out of a casual conversation working together in this space of like-minded people,” Will Forrester from the Infrastructure and Operations Committee told The Tiger.

There are currently no plans to build a new student union, and for the foreseeable future, the space that Johnstone now occupies will be preserved as green space, according to the University spokesperson.

Multiple University leaders expressed the need for a replacement student union on Clemson’s campus.

At a Student Senate meeting last year, Clemson President Jim Clements acknowledged that the University needs a new student union, as The Tiger reported in January. Additionally, at a CUSG meeting earlier this month, Dean of Students Chris Miller admitted that a new union “absolutely has to happen.”

In the absence of a student union, Clemson hopes to improve facilities across campus that align with student growth and promote the No. 1 student experience

“(T)he University has initiated the process of updating the Long-range Framework Plan that guides growth and development of the campus,” the spokesperson wrote in an email. “To ensure we deliver the #1 student experience, the plan update will provide a focus on facilities solutions for social spaces, indoor/outdoor recreation, and student wellness in the development of a comprehensive campus life strategy for the University.”

As for the other organizations in the union, Student Mail Services has moved to Dillard Hall, Parking Services and the Municipal Court to Gentry Hall across from Riggs Field and the Career Closet has been relocated.

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