CHLOE VANGERPEN GRACE WALLIN
BEAU BORDEWYK JACOB KNUTSON
Augustana University students can expect a newly remodeled Siverson Lounge and Huddle when they return from interim break on Feb. 5, according to director of Campus Life Corey Kopp.
In late January, workers will begin installing a sub shop in the Huddle, demolishing the coffee kiosk in the Huddle and moving it into the Siverson, and possibly adding new furniture in both the Huddle and Siverson, Kopp said.
Damian Lewis, the general manager of Augustana’s dining services, said the renovations will cost a total of $250,000, all of which has been provided to the university by Sodexo, the French hospitality company that manages Augustana’s dining services and facilities. Lewis said Sodexo granted the university the money because it saw a need and decided to fill it.
“Our end game for this is to enhance the student experience,” Lewis said. “Because we want to retain more students and entice more students on the meal plan. We’re partners, so what is good for one is good for the other.”
Kopp said the university will dismantle the coffee kiosk in the Huddle to free up space, though it has not decided how to fill the space. He proposed turning the space into a dining area or moving the pool tables there. The soda machine in the Huddle will remain.
Junior Logan Hattervig, a senator on the Augustana Student Association, said he believes it is important that the renovations free up space for students, whether that space be used for recreational, academic or dining spaces.
“Something that was voiced a lot on the Senate when we discussed the remodeling was how cramped the Huddle can get when it’s busy,” Hattervig said. “So making an investment to make the space comfortable and shorten up the lines is a big motivation.”
Hattervig serves as the chair of the student association’s Housing and Dining Committee, which has dealt with the issue of increasingly long lines over the past couple of years. As the university’s enrollment grew, so did the wait times at dining facilities.
Senior Grace Fjellanger has used Augie’s dining services consistently for the past four years, and she said that more students slow things down.
“Definitely, as a senior, it’s definitely different than it was like three or four years ago when there were overall fewer students at the school,” Fjellanger said. “And it feels like nothing has really solved that problem.”
The new coffee kiosk, which will remain affiliated with Starbucks, will be located in the indentation in the Siverson where the wooden Augustana seal hung. According to mockups that TSP Inc., a Sioux Falls-based engineering and architecture firm, created, the kiosk will include stool seating and an open-air cooler for merchandise.
Kopp said the university decided to move the seal and hang it in the first floor of the Froiland Science Complex. He said a Starbucks logo may take its place in the Siverson.
The sub shop will be a part of SubConnection, one of Sodexo’s retail extensions, and will be located to the left of the Viking Grill. Currently, SubConnection has locations on several colleges, including Marshall University, Casper College, Texas Lutheran University and Carthage College.
Hattervig said SubConnection is crucial for fulfilling student’s needs for more variety and shorter wait times.
To accommodate the sub shop and the coffee kiosk, Kopp said Sodexo and the university will replace the current serving countertop in the Huddle with a longer one with more serving wells and will remove part of the carpet in the indentation in the Siverson and replace it with wood laminate flooring.
Most of the demolition will be superficial, though workers will have to reroute electrical lines and plumbing in both the Huddle and Siverson, Kopp said. To cut down on cost, he said university maintenance workers will help install the plumbing and electrical lines.
Kopp said the installation of the kiosk, the new countertop, the electrical and plumbing work will take around three days, but they have planned two additional days if work is delayed. He said the construction time is swift because the firm is building the kiosk off-campus.
The money remaining after the physical remodeling of the Huddle and Siverson will be used to buy new furniture for the Siverson and Huddle, though students may have to wait until the summer to use the new furniture depending on how much money remains after the initial renovation.
Kopp and Lewis have not determined what furniture to buy because they are waiting for students’ responses and ideas. However, Kopp has proposed buying study cubicles similar to those in the Mikkelsen Library.
Hattervig said he will send out a survey campus-wide to let students decide what furniture they want to see.
Most of the renovations will begin in the last week of J-term and continue into interim break, which begins Jan. 31, 2019. He said the Huddle, the sub shop and the Siverson coffee kiosk should be up and running when students return from break on Feb. 5 for spring semester.
(Click on gallery to enlarge photos and view captions.)
New furniture and decor, including new entertainment pieces like pool tables, may have to wait to be added until summer break, depending on the ultimate cost and duration of the remodeling.
The renovations in the Siverson were almost delayed until the summer due to questions about drainage for the coffee kiosk, but a solution was devised by connecting the Siverson pipes system to the bathrooms next to the back alley.
The renovations are not a part of the Student Union Project (SUP), the university’s plan to renovate and expand the Morrison Common. The SUP is still in its funding phase, where it will be for the next four to five years, Kopp said.
Kopp said Lewis and he proposed the renovations of the Huddle and Siverson as a small change during the wait for the SUP and to address the Huddle’s “lack of an identity.”
Freshman Sheldon Jensen said he hopes the renovations can be a “small taste” of what is to come with the larger renovations.
“Ideally, the remodeling can improve things like variety and mobility for students who will be here right up until the Student Union Project is made,” Jensen said. “If it can make the Huddle into a space that students want to hang out in more, I think it will turn out to be a really special thing.”
Sophomore Carly Rahn said she looks forward to the renovations.
“The Huddle is a place for community on campus,” Rahn said. “By renovating the Huddle, not only will the student services be improved but also the community environment on campus.”
Freshman Katie Shaw said she hopes the renovations will make the Huddle feel larger. She said the Huddle’s current layout always feels busy, so moving the coffee station will help the space feel bigger and less busy.
Hattervig said many students expressed a desire for a new coffee vendor other than Starbucks, with most saying that a more local chain might fit Augustana’s identity better. However, Starbucks is in a contract with Sodexo so Starbucks will remain for the foreseeable future.
The university renewed their own ten-year contract with Sodexo last year.
Kopp said Lewis and he started planning the renovation last spring semester and intended to complete them over the summer but they ran out of time. Instead, they opted for the renovation over J-term. They said they contacted the ASA’s Housing and Dining Committee in late September to get student input.
Hattervig said he is the luckiest in a long line of Housing and Dining committee chairs who have worked to update the Huddle and Siverson to better fit students’ wants and needs.
“There was a lot of work done for years before I was even a student here,” Hattervig said. “With a new student union coming down the line, the timing was just right to finally get the ball moving.”
Many students will leave for a second winter break after wrapping up J-Term, but when they return, the Huddle and Siverson will have a whole new look.
Augustana Campus Life and Dining Services alter meal plan along with renovations
Campus Life and Dining Service will be altering the meal plan options and transfer meal program alongside the renovations in the Huddle and Siverson Lounge, according to Corey Kopp, Director of Campus Life.
Beginning in spring semester, Campus Life and Dining Services will phase out the transfer meal program and introduce a flex dollars program which gives students a sum of money that they can spend on any product offered in the Huddle or the future coffee kiosk in the Siverson. Additionally, they will offer two new meal plans.
“Primarily, we started this whole conversation to make the program better and to provide the flexibility students are asking for,” Kopp said.
The amount of the sum is tied to students’ meal plan. The unlimited meal plan will come with $125, the new 15-meals-a-week plan will offer $325 and the new 90-meals-a-year plan will come with $30.
The 90-meals-a-year plan replaced the current 75-meals-a-year plan, but students with the 75-meals plan will retain that same plan for the rest of the academic year.
The new 15-meals-a-week plan will cost $2,190 per academic year—the same amount as the current unlimited meal plan. The 90-meals-a-year plan will cost $900 every academic year, which is $150 more than the 75-meals plan.
Currently, students can use their two weekly transfer meals for a limited amount of options. With the flex program, Kopp said students can purchase any item in the Huddle, from a soda to a burger to a frappuccino and anything from the campus vending machines.
“Transfer meals are really annoying and so specific,” freshman Lauryn Van Regenmorter said. “I’m really excited for more options with the flex money.”
Sophomore Carly Rahn said flex money will be more beneficial. Currently, Rahn uses her two weekly transfer meals for coffee so $125 will allow her to buy more coffees.
Students or their family members can also add additional flex dollars to their account, though Campus Life and Dining Services are still developing an incentive for adding the additional flex dollars, Kopp said. Personal money added to a student’s account will roll over to the next academic year, but the unused meal plan dollars will disappear.
Junior Logan Hattervig, an Augustana Student Association senator currently serving as the Housing and Dining Committee chair, has seen efforts to revamp the meal plan structure come and go since his time at the university.
“This has been something that every Housing and Dining committee that I’ve seen since my freshman year has tried to tackle,” Hattervig said. “But there were always problems with getting all the relevant groups to work in conjunction. This time everybody was really on board with each other.”
Eventually, students will also be able to check their balances online, Kopp said.
According to Mirror archives, the university has been proposing and altering meal plans with flex dollar options since the 1990s.
The university phased out the old flex program in 2012 and replaced it with the current transfer meal program because the flex dollars were too confusing and campus life and dining services made logistical errors with the previous programs.
“They were just a nightmare,” Kopp said. “It was a nightmare to administer, and none of our students were very happy with the process at all. We came to a point where we had to hit reset.”
Kopp said he thinks they will avoid the problems this time because they have studied what went wrong with the former programs.
Sophomore Nicolette Schmidt said other schools she has visited have had flex options that allow students more freedom and mobility when it comes to dining options.
“When I’ve seen friends at their schools, they will a lot of the time have a dining plan that is not as restrictive as Augie’s,” Schmidt said. “It would definitely be good if we had more options of what and when we could eat.”
Students who currently do not have a meal plan but wish to add one of the new plans in the Spring will have to wait to do so until after J-Term is finished since J-Term tuition is factored into Fall payments.