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Ole Miss Construction Creates Excitement And Some Resentment

Click on the image above to view Turner Center landing in 360. Created by Kyra Henderson.
With student enrollment on the rise at the University of Mississippi, a number of renovation and expansion projects are underway to manage the growth. Reaction to the changes ranges from enthusiasm for the future to frustration for the immediate impact of major construction on campus.
The Turner Center has around for decades offering different options for student workout activities and sports. In fact, the center is so popular among students and some faculty that it can be overloaded with people, which limits use time of the equipment and enjoyment of the facility is cut short.
Now, the university has developed a plan to build a new facility, called the South Campus Recreation Center, that is set to open in the fall semester of 2018.
“It is going to be a bigger facility more modern, updated than the Turner Center because with how big the university is getting, it is not large enough for all of the students,” says Linda Langiotti, a student worker at the Turner Center.
According to campusrec.olemiss.edu, the future facility will also serve as a campus transportation hub, with more than 700 parking spaces, O.U.T. bus lines and shuttles to main campus.
Langiotti is ready for it all.
“It should be pretty awesome a new facility because we need one.”

Click on the image above to view Ole Miss Student Union construction in 360. Created by Ana Martinez.

Across campus, the $59 million renovation of the Student Union began early in July 2015 and is expected to double the size of the existing building from 97,000-square-feet to about 170,000-square-feet. Once finished, the final product will provide larger lobbies for socializing and studying, as well as additional dining space.
Though the concept of a new union increasing in size for future students sounds great to many, at least one current student is finding the construction to be an inconvenience. Student Jessica McElveen, 22, says she’s starting to feel like the school is neglecting current students and their needs.

Photo by Ana Martinez.

“I’ve been here for almost three years and two of those years the school has been under construction,” said McElveen, a English Literature major. “Now on my last semester here, they have blocked several roads where my bus takes its regular route and they closed the Student Union, which housed five restaurants students frequently ate at. It’s my senior year and rather than feeling like the university values me and is sad to see me go, I feel like they’re pushing me out the door to get ready for the new generation. The school focuses too much on future students and not on the ones they already have.”
The new union is expected to open in fall 2018, with new dining options available in fall 2017, but that’s going to mean at least a few more months of long waits at lunch time.
“It’s packed,” sophomore nursing major, Ashley Case, said at Einstein Bros Bagels while she waited in line to receive her breakfast.
Located across from the Pavilion in Anderson Hall, which houses part of the School of Engineering, employees at Einstein’s are struggling to accommodate the recent increase of customers.
The café has extended it hours of operation this semester from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on weekdays and 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on weekends.  
“It’s definitely been more crowded since the Union’s closed. I have to come to school earlier to beat the crowd and don’t even try coming here (Einstein’s) around noon,” Case said.
Case said that similar situations are happening at other dining locations on campus, like the Chick Fila food truck and Rebel Market.
“I really just hope that they finish the construction on the Union soon,” Case said. “I miss my daily Starbucks coffee breaks.”

Click on the image above to view the location of Einstein’s Bagels in 360. Created by Ashley Thusius.
Stories contributed by Meek School of Journalism students Kyra Henderson (khenders@go.olemiss.edu), Ana Martinez (jamarti7@go.olemiss.edu) and Ashley Thusius (althusiu@go.olemiss.edu).

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