A group of students and staff attending the regional conference for the Association of College Unions International (ACUI) in El Paso, Texas, hosted at the University of Texas at El Paso. Schools that attended the conference this year include UNT, University of Houston, Texas State University, University of Texas at Arlington, University of Texas, Texas A&M, Texas A&M Commerce, Texas A&M Corpus Christi, Rice University, University of Western Arkansas, Texas Tech University, Tulane University, Sam Houston State University, Lousiana State University, University of Texas Pan American, University of Texas San Antonio, and University of Texas at El Paso. UNT’s group got to take part in interactive seminars, workshops, facility tours, and roundtable discussions about Union programs, services, and best practices in the field of higher education. Students that attended include UNT’s student government president Blake Windham, UPC president Taylor Bailey, UPC program coordinator Jordan Higgins, and UPC graduate assistance Marissa Williams.
I am honored to be a part of the regional leadership team for the region 12 group of ACUI and was thrilled to also serve on the conference planning team for this year. I got to help plan and organize sessions for the conference to help benefit and enrich the students’ conference experience. As a professional in the field of Union operations in higher education, I also got to enjoy the time of sharing ideas and being inspired by my peers in the same field. Many of the other schools that attended have recently gone through a renovation/expansion of their Union on their campus. I enjoyed hearing from them about their experiences and getting ideas about sharing the master plan mission with the entire student body at UNT. I look forward to sharing this information with the master plan committee and the students who are charged with advertising this important campus initative.
One thing that didn’t surprise me was that I heard their students echoing the same desires for a new Union on their campus that our students at UNT have been sharing! Students at Texas A&M were excited for UNT about the possibility of us getting a new Union too because they know what it would mean for our students have the same opportunities! University of Houston students were also really jazzed for UNT about the prospect of expanding and renovating our Union because they too were a student-driven campus initiative. It was invigorating to be surrounded by so many pumped up students who supported the college union idea and what it means for a campus. I could hardly wait to get back to work on Monday to tell my co-workers and the students what I had heard and learned while I was at UTEP for the conference.
I look forward for the coming years when UNT can share with other schools the same passion about OUR Union master plan and how our campus made this dream a possibility. The Union plays such a vital role at UNT, and on lots of other college campuses, it’s exciting to think about what a new Union could do and allow for our students to be able to do at UNT!
– Stefanie Ritz, assistant director of assessment, marketing, and planning for the University Union at UNT and web/multimedia coordinator for ACUI region 12