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Editorial: Build a new student union in the space of the old one

Clemson Libraries
Old student union

It’s official: the student union, opened in 1950 and located across from Core, is being marked for demolition. So what does that mean for students? Right now, that answer isn’t clear as the University hasn’t yet decided what to build after tearing the old student union down. The need for a student union is still evident on West Campus and Clemson should build a new one to replace it.
While the current student union is a remnant of Clemson’s history, many student organizations and groups still use it on campus. It’s home to the underground recreation center, Parking Services and formerly Mail Services. As Clemson prepares for demolition, these groups are looking for other places to go.
Parking Services and Mail Services currently plan to move to other campus buildings. At this time, there are no plans for the underground recreation center to move to a new location — meaning students will lose the social and entertainment amenities the underground recreation center provides.  
A new student union has the ability to be a centerpiece of the campus, something that is able to be used by all students. The new union could help encourage more students to study on campus in places besides the library and provide a fresh and vibrant place for student organizations to meet. 
Studies show that the longer students physically stay on campus and in an academic mindset, the higher their chances are for academic growth and success, according to HMC architects. 
Besides academic benefits, let’s look at the physical ones. There are 19 student housing buildings surrounding the current student union, representing over 50% of all student housing locations available on campus.
Having a student union present and centered between these housing options would only make sense. The other two hubs of student living, Douthit Hills and Bryan Mall, have areas nearby where students can go to study: the Hub and the Hendrix Student Center, respectively.
Instead of leaving the space empty, as currently proposed, it makes the most sense to build a new student union in the space of the current one.
A new union would ensure that students all over campus, especially those who live in the surrounding student housing, would have access to another place to work and study. And student organizations that currently call the union their home wouldn’t have to find a permanent relocation. 

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