A new student building could effectively retain and engage students on campus. Shane Maryott/UVU Review

A recent decision made by the Utah state board of regents approved of the proposed Student Life and Wellness Center and parking structure.

The building and parking structure will be erected in the employee parking lots south of the library. Any parking spots destroyed by construction will be replaced by the new parking structure, which will house 534 stalls.

The building itself will be the residence of a bowling alley, intramural courts, a game center, climbing wall, cardio-cinema, multi-purpose space and commons area. These new facilities will be paid for with a portion of student fees.

According to Vice President of Administration and Legislative Affairs Val Peterson, “This project is important in developing the holistic nature of Utah Valley University.”

The university has made it clear that their goal is for students to be engaged and that they feel engagement is a corridor to success. But how exactly does a building full of things non-scholastic in nature assist student success?

In attempting to answer this question, it brings to mind another: What kind of students are we accommodating at our university?

We have heard it before and it will be repeated again: We have a unique student body. With our open enrollment and location, we have a notable population of returning students, students living with parents and international students, to name a few. In addition, commuting students frequent our classrooms.

A student building may be a reasonable solution to bring these students together or providing a common place for them. Our current student center does little for such a cause, providing instead a series of confusing hallways with a few shops between hallway divisions.

The hall of flags on the west side of the main entrance is the closest thing UVU has to a commons area or popular gathering place. Despite being a main artery of the school’s hallways, it provides little intimacy or encouragement for lounging and student recreation and enforces mostly isolation instead.

“I think it would be fun for students to come and participate together,” said UVU student Lauren Wignall.

Since UVU currently provides no on-campus housing, activities arranged by the university and its subsidiary organizations comprise most campus activities.

A student center will not entirely relieve the university of such activities, but may help sustain attendance at them, especially if students are already on campus for entertainment.

“Studies show that such facilities invite students to stay on campus,” said William Sederburg, commissioner of higher education and former UVU president, “thereby providing them with a well-rounded educational experience.”

If Sederburg has his facts straight, this answers our initial question, how does a building full of things non-scholastic in nature aid student success?

Peterson said, “One of the priorities at [UVU] is to increase retention of the students who attend the institution.”

The building itself won’t be a center for academic success, but the desired result is to hook students with campus life, which can aid their length of stay, completion of higher educational degrees and pride in ones school.