California State University, Long Beach

Long Beach,

Student Union And Sustainability Center Programming And Financial Analysis

In 2014 the Associated Students Inc. at California State University, Long Beach, contracted B&D to conduct a fee sensitivity analysis for proposed improvements to the University Student Union, which was facing a series of structural and mechanical issues. We were tasked with helping the university determine whether or not to move forward with a spring 2015 referendum for approval to expand and renovate the Union. Any such work would require an increase in student fees and, hence, a yes-or-no vote by the student body. This analysis was based on the results of a needs assessment and facility audit we completed with Pfeiffer Partners three years earlier, which revealed the need for expanded services and spaces along with renovation, seismic retrofitting, and upgraded technology throughout the building. Our approach included engaging with various campus stakeholders that included students, faculty/staff, student government leaders, and on-campus sustainability leaders. The work plan re-examined current facilities and programs, determined student satisfaction with existing space, and tested fee support for proposed changes to the Union. It involved focus groups and stakeholder interviews to qualitatively re-assess the variety of Union needs and to test interest in a sustainability resource center, as well as a campus-wide survey to quantify fee support for the proposed concepts. We also assessed the fee levels needed for financial feasibility. Three concepts were developed and tested in the study, each with a Union renovation, expansion, and sustainability center as its key components. The three plans were represented by varying levels of required student fee support based on the degree of expansion and renovation. While two of the concepts received moderate student support, they still fell short of a majority, prompting us to recommend that the university allow more time to educate the students about the project before proceeding with a referendum, including a campaign to address the project’s overall benefits, challenges, and fee impact.