Students aim to regain traction for new student center advocacy

Cat Zakrzewski, Campus Editor

A group of Northwestern students relaunched an initiative advocating for an improved student center last week, just days before Norris University Center celebrated its 40th birthday.

The New Student Center Initiative first formed in 2010 when Associated Student Government attempted to garner grassroots support from students and administrators for a new building. Following successful meetings with NU trustees, the group fizzled out formally because the necessary stakeholders supported its cause. Now that ASG has released renderings of the proposed student center, the group has resurged to gain support and feedback as the University prepares to fundraise, said NSCI spokesman Brad Stewart.

“It really comes down to prioritization and fundraising at this point,” said Stewart, the former ASG executive vice president. “We need to show the University the students really do want this.”

The Medill senior said momentum for a better student union began as early as two years after Norris was completed and have periodically resurfaced since then, but this new push will bring NU closer to realizing a new student center than ever before.

The new renderings feature a center with more open spaces for student group collaboration. Situated in Norris’s current location, the new center plans feature more outdoor space, student entertainment options, food vendors and centralization of student resources, ranging from University Career Services to the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life. Amalia Namath, director of the New Student Center Initiative, spent hours in Norris working with various student groups, most notably as co-chair of Northwestern Community Development Corps.

“I’ve been living in Norris practically, at least for the past two years, and we just realized it needs to change,” the Weinberg senior said. “A lot of the colleges that are comparable to Northwestern just have a better student union and a more centralized student union.”

The group has launched a website where students can view the current plans, share their feedback and sign a petition calling for the center. A week after its launch, the petition had gained more than 200 signatures.

Although seniors currently spearhead the initiative, both Stewart and Namath said there are many qualified sophomores and juniors ready to take on more responsibility when they graduate in several weeks. They said the push for a new student center was a way they could leave their mark on NU.

“We’re trying to set the way for future generations of Wildcats to have an even better experience from what we’ve had,” Stewart said.