Is it game-over for the Game Room?

Emily Echevarria and Darvin Nelson

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Tucked away on the first floor of the Student Union, there’s a place filled with laughter, community, and the occasional battle cry. It’s where students go to relax, to explore new worlds, and to forge friendships into the late hours of the night– but changes are coming. 

The UNF Game Room is a haven of sorts for so many UNF students; it’s home to tournaments, ping pong and pool tables, and spaces for friends to just hang out. 

This space is changing, though, and soon. To put it lightly, students are not happy. 

Darvin Nelson

On Sept. 27, Student Government voted unanimously in approval of plans to move the Lend-A-Wing student pantry to the Game Room space. While this plan aims to make the pantry more accessible to students that struggle with food insecurity, it requires downgrading the size of the game room, a detail not viewed fondly by many students. A portion of the room will be sectioned off for the pantry, which will require the ping pong and pool tables to be moved to the Boathouse.

As soon as President Aloszka announced the new plans for the space, he was met with uproar. Patrons of the game room were furious, and even started a petition to prevent the changes. The main concerns of students were the removal of the ping pong tables, the disruption to the frequent gaming tournaments held in the room, and the infringement into a place where they felt safe and comfortable.

Game Room blueprint, courtesy of President Aloszka.

The petition says the Game Room is being “robbed of pool tables and ping pong,” and “downgraded severely to the point where tournaments will be ruined.” While the Director of the Student Union reassured that the reconstruction would make the space “more flexible and easier to set up and run tournaments” despite the decrease in space, students remain more skeptical.

Katherine England, a senior English major, is a frequent patron of the Game Room, and said that while Lend-A-Wings is nice, they “just feel like there are other areas of campus it could be without taking away someone else’s space. I understand that sometimes sacrifices need to be made but this seems like it’s going to affect a lot of people negatively.”

The situation was a bit of a Catch-22. Lend-A-Wing needed a new home, desperately, and the only place it could feasibly be moved to without breaking the budget was the Game Room. 

Several employees with “Osprey Eyes,” a sort of secret-shopper program for UNF services, commented that Lend-A-Wings was a wonderful service, but that it was a shame that it was located in Hicks Hall. This prompted the relocation and revamping process, where President Aloszka and Vice President Costello looked to move the pantry to a more central location.

The Student Union, they said, saw the most foot traffic and was the most convenient place because it already had plumbing and was close to delivery routes. “It’s a better location for all,” said Costello.

 The Director of the Student Union, Jennifer Nutt, agreed that the Student Union is more accessible and said she hopes the increased visibility will lead to an increase in donations to Lend-a-Wing. The goal of the food pantry was to allow more students to have access to food staples, and the current location is not conducive to that purpose. Nutt encourages all students to visit the pantry, regardless of their food need, because the service is there to help students and often goes underutilized and unnoticed.  

The project is part of a larger plan to activate the first floor of the Student Union. In addition to the Lend-A-Wings changes, it also involves creating a Student Involvement Center to coordinate with on-campus organizations and clubs. 

The renovation process will take 1-2 months, and is planned to be constructed between Fall and Spring semester. “We’re trying to have everything done by early Spring,” according to Student Government President John Aloszka. This, he said, would minimize the effect on students. It’s when the least amount of people are on campus, and so the Game Room would be at its emptiest. 

The entire project has a budget of approximately $220,000 to cover three components: the relocation of the pool tables and ping pong tables to the Boathouse, the construction costs, and the Student Involvement Center and wages. 

While students are angry about the ping pong and pool tables being moved, they are also confused. Why the Boathouse, many are wondering. England commented that the move “seems like a disaster waiting to happen.”

The Director of the Student Union disagreed, however.

“I think it would add an extra dimension to what the Boathouse can offer, being not only a place to eat, but a place to hang out and hopefully make new connections,” said Nutt.

Aloszka commented that “it’s like a Sports Bar atmosphere. We heard a lot from students that we wish the boathouse was better and it’s something we’ve been working on” 

While it remains to be seen whether the changes to the Game Room will be for better or worse, important changes are coming to Student Union East, and soon. 

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