Ms. Jennifer Nutt of the Student Union spoke to the committee on behalf of John Simms. The Student Union houses Student affairs, the student government rotunda, an Art gallery, LGBTQ office, campus life, restaurants as well as meeting rooms for rent. The union is staffed by 7 professional staff and 56 students.
The committee proposed questions to Ms. Nutt regarding: “How can we get around the cost for using a space?” “Are faculty limited in what we can rent?” “Should we partner with student groups?”
Ms. Nutt reported that the cost of renting the space is for upkeep. The Union has been in existence for eight years now and maintenance is required for things not under warranty. She also stated that we were the only University in the state system that wasn’t charging, so two years ago the Union began to charge to book for off campus groups. Now they charge for on campus departments as well. She noted that their pricing is the lowest in the Florida system. She also reported that a small meeting space (< 20 people) with no technology is still free.
Ms. Nutt described the room rentals available and their associated costs:
Most fees are for the cost of technology or room arrangement. There is a $12 fee is for technology (projector, etc.). If you need technology you might as well get the room rearranged as well because there is no additional fee.
The Union creates 3 static set-ups for media rooms. If you do not require them to change the chairs (static)- then rental is free. If you need the projector there is a $12 fee. If you need technology you might as well get the room rearranged because there is no additional fee.
There is an hourly rate. The full ballroom is $50 per hour. You can also rent it in ¼ segments. ¼ ballroom with round tables holds about 60 people.
$50 per hour includes multiple technology options. It is on the 2nd floor and can hold 240 individuals. The chairs are fixed “movie theater” style.
This space is available for rental as well. The Union also rents the Amphitheatre, the plaza, the green and the area outside of the library.
The fieldhouse is rentable, but it is considered part of the “Wellness Center” and they also charge for space. The Union is unable to rent these areas for faculty, you have to go through the Wellness center.
Ms. Nutt stressed that faculty are advised to contact Zach Needs for assistance. He can help faculty determine the right room and features for their needs at the lowest cost. Faculty can also partner with student groups, in which case if the student group runs the event then room rental is free.
Committee members voiced concern that “We invite guest speakers to campus “for the students” and now we have to pay. This is limiting factor for some departments.” “It is hard that pricing for the Union rooms came out after departments set their budget for the year.” Ms. Nutt reported that this is still the lowest price in the Florida system. Zach Needs can help faculty save money. Ms. Nutt advised that faculty start planning as early as possible. Space is tight and student groups book the rooms far in advance, leaving fewer options available. Faculty are also advised to partner with the Union’s marketing area. There is also the option of Marketing Days. If you want to advertise events you can rent a table and two chairs.
Ms. Nutt noted that there are also digital boards. The signage is free. You can advertise events which will be posted and repeated for 2 weeks. There are 47 boards throughout the Union. Anyone can use it, even student groups. The ad can include text and pictures.
The Union’s Game Room is also available for team building and faculty retreats. The room includes a pool table, ping pong, about 80 board games, and video games. According to Ms. Nutt it is easier to rent during the summer. The cost is between $20-$30. The cost is for the students who staff the room. Departments can bring in outside food.
Committee members asked if the Union is considering adding other services. For example, UF has a barber, playhouse and bowling alley in their Union. Ms. Nutt stated that the Union does not control vendor space or what vendors we have. Currently there is no space for additional vendors and no plans to expand.
Finally, committee members asked if the Union has streaming capabilities. Ms. Nutt reported that they are looking in to getting it and hoping to add it to the small, medium and large rooms.