The initial work of Student Government's Student Union Steering Committee was presented to USC's board of trustees on Friday, garnering the support of University President Harris Pastides and trustees alike.
Student Body President Ross Lordo presented the board with a timeline that would kick-start updated plans for renovating the Carolina Coliseum into a new student union. Under Lordo's plan, a recent $10 student fee increase would continue to fund a concept study on the renovations. SG's Steering Committee would present those conclusions to the board by the end of the calendar year and schematic designs would be but together by 2020 or 2021.
The board and Pastides approved that timeline.
"I want to leave no doubt, Ross, to you that we are supportive," Pastides said. "I personally am supportive of this."
In addition to Lordo's presentation, Pastides noted that the Coliseum is "too big" to just be a student union and said the building would continue to contain academic space. When asked if recent renovations to the basketball practice areas of the Coliseum would be undone, Pastides said that would not be a concern for many years.
In his presentation, Lordo argued that the Russell House lags behind the student unions of other, comparable schools. He made a personal plea to the board, citing his experience as a university ambassador.
"As a tour guide, I'm constantly bringing our prospective students through the Russell House ... We don't necessarily just sell the building, you sell the experience," he said. "But we have so many students that are going through Russell House and then they're going to the North or going to Georgia or Florida and going into their unions and it's magnificent."
USC has not added square footage to Russell House since 1976, according to Lordo's presentation. The next longest run without expansion in the SEC is at the University of Arkansas, which hasn't added space to its student union since 2000.
Trustees also heard an update on the University's Master Plan, put together in 2010, at the February meeting. Among other ideas, the concept of expanded student union space was also addressed in that presentation.