When Greydon Turner stepped to the microphone outside the new Arkansas Tech University student union to speak during the facility's grand opening event, his remarks reflected the hopes and perseverance of those who have missed the basic privilege of human interaction during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
"Hull student union and the grand opening of this facility is a beacon of light in the darkness for a lot of students," said Turner, a senior from Grapevine, Texas, and past president of the ATU Student Government Association. "It represents a place where we can get together and find community. It is my hope that in 10, 15 or 20 years, the current students will come back to this facility and tell their children 'this is where I met my best friend' or 'this is where I met my husband' or 'my wife.' I hope they look back on the Hull student union as a place where they could go, have a normal experience and remember the days before coronavirus. I hope it continues to represent that hope for all students to come."
The new ATU student union inside the Hull Physical Education Building opened on Tuesday, Nov. 17.
Occupancy limits, social distancing guidelines and face covering requirements consistent with phase one of the ATU pandemic recovery framework are in effect.
The Hull Building student union provides ATU students with access to social activities such as table tennis, billiards, the latest Xbox and PlayStation video game systems, soft seating designed to encourage interaction and space for musical performances and presentations.
"This building represents a place where we can come together," said Arianna Woodard, a senior from Alma and president of ATU Student Activities Board. "This is where organizations like Student Activities Board, Student Government Association, Alpha Phi Alpha and international student organizations can pour countless hours into meeting, planning and dreaming. This place means so much to me, our SAB executive board, our team members, the Department of Campus Life and students looking for a place to engage and enhance their college experience. I can't wait to sit here with the rest of the executive board and plan new and exciting events for campus. This beautiful building and the opening of this space represents community and opportunity. It shows that Arkansas Tech is still investing in its students and their education in new and creative ways every day."
Chartwells, food service provider at Arkansas Tech, is operating a smoothie and gourmet coffee station inside the Hull Building student union. ATU students with a meal plan are able to spend their declining balance on the food and drink items available for purchase at the smoothie and gourmet coffee station, which will be named as part of a forthcoming student contest.
The south side of the student union provides a view of Thone Stadium at Buerkle Field, home of Arkansas Tech football.
The Hull Building student union is also home to a patio that will provide an outdoor seating option. The patio includes a fire pit, which was lit for the first time by Jacob Loomis, a senior from Bryant and incoming president of ATU Student Government Association, and Dr. Robin E. Bowen, ATU president, during the grand opening ceremony.
"Our students asked for a facility where they can be themselves," said Bowen during the ceremony. "They asked for a place with modern amenities that can serve an increasingly diverse student body. They asked for a common space where they can enjoy their free time in a setting that encourages socialization. Arkansas Tech has responded by renovating these 17,000 square feet to reflect each of those requests. This is your student union, Arkansas Tech. Enjoy it, care for it and make memories here."