The University of Connecticut Student Union is open and running “new normal” operations, according to Student Union Director Cynthia Costanzo.
The Union Street Market, common areas, offices and third-party businesses like Dunkin’, Subway and One Plate, Two Plate are all open and available for student use this fall, with masks and social distancing required, Costanzo said.
In order to accommodate social distancing, Costanzo said tables are all six feet apart with only one chair at them, chairs in lounges and common areas are all spaced appropriately and large tents have been added to the Student Union Lawn.
“At the Student Union Lawn they’ve installed a large tent and tables and chairs will be placed,” Costanzo said. “(This is) another place where students can sit and take a break or get something to eat.”
A video posted to the UConn Facebook page showed these tents, and focused on the more administrative side of the Union. For example, the Union opened on August 14 for general operations, but events will not take place in the building until September 21.
Preference for event reservations is being given to student organizations, Student Union Associate Director for Event Services Isaac Barber said.
These types of organizations, such as Tier IIIs, cultural centers and student activities, are all responsible for COVID-19 protocols within their own offices, Costanzo said.
“Their spaces are required to meet all state guidelines, cleaning, spacing, etc.,” Costanzo said. “Those spaces they will set themselves. We don’t have control but certainly will support them if they need to make adjustments, move furniture, and will store that additional furniture for them.”
The same expectations apply to businesses on the first and second floor of the building.
During ordinary times, lines can get exceptionally long at businesses like Dunkin’ in the Student Union. Costanzo said that options like mobile and kiosk ordering should help limit crowds waiting in line, freeing up space in the lobby. In addition, there are less people on campus in general.
“The University has taken a lot of measures to de-densify the University,” Costanzo said. “Right now we have about 5,000 students on campus, when usually there’s about 13,000. The University has also made it clear that students who live off campus and are taking online classes shouldn’t be coming to campus.”
Costanzo said that if problems arise and as the situation evolves, protocols within the Union will be changed.
“We’re going to work to modify the plans as we need to to meet the students’ needs,” Costanzo said. “We’re in a place that we’ve done all the prework, but we just don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Luke Hajdasz is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.