Establishing a Mean Green Community through Research

What is necessary for a unified feeling of community within a college campus? It is vital that the UNT University Union uncovers the answer to that question as it embarks on a Master Plan Project that maintains a core intention to better develop a collective spirit that bounds a student to his or her university. A university’s facilities are essentially the frontline of campus community as they are an attempt to provide for students the appropriate services and resources that enhance the college experience. However, every student body is unlike another as the overall needs and lifestyles of one may be entirely dissimilar to that of the University of North Texas. Therefore it is necessary to execute research strategies regarding the situations, needs, and features of the student body in order to guide the Master Plan in a direction that will ultimately lead to a facility that fits appropriately within the UNT community.

What creates campus community? That question holds more dynamics than proper responses. One may argue that campus community is the result of an established sense of pride. Think of universities such as the University of Texas or another large, highly reputable school. These universities hold a reputation that creates this sense of pride and in turn, students hold a commonality that binds them together as a unit into their school. But UNT does not currently have such a prominent and prideful spirit like those. So how would UNT establish within its student body a sense of community of similar strength as those universities? Ask the students themselves about their situations and mindsets and use their responses to develop facilities and services that complement student life.

Professionals and adminstrative staff affiliated with college unions across the nation are implementing research tactics to uncover both noticeable and underlying characteristics of student bodies. Much like market research, these strategies intend to reveal a student body more fully and clearly in order to better serve them, as a company would modulate its products or services to fit the needs and characteristics of its target market. The UNT Union has conducted student forums, polls, and other measures to communicate with students to create a more defined map of objectives for the Master Plan. Architects responsible for the design of the Union will be speaking face-to-face with students and holding forums with the same intentions: to more fully understand them and create a Union that harmonizes within their lives as college students and individuals.

Assitant Director, Stefanie Ritz describes these research tactics as an objective “…to help UNT fully create the exact puzzle piece that is needed for our Union to be the best it can possibly be.”

What is uncovered in the research and studies must then be applied to the ongoing formulation of plans for a Union renovation. However, research upon the student body should not discontinue throughout the course of planning and design. More research provides deeper insights and information to be interpretated about the general student body that was not known before (unless an ambitious individual has already interviewed and communicated with all 40,000 UNT students). Nevertheless, what is known and interpreted about UNT’s students must be the primary guiding light for all of the Master Plan’s actions to develop a distinct community that resonates throughout the university at large. The idea that students provide the roadmaps to our decisions must not be pushed aside.

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