Student Life Center receives face-lift, celebrates 10 years

Todd Lanham, freshman criminal justice major, takes a shot at one of the two new pool tables Aug. 21 at the Student Life Center. The free pool tables are one updated feature in the SLC.

Kristin Wilfing

Todd Lanham, freshman criminal justice major, takes a shot at one of the two new pool tables Aug. 21 at the Student Life Center. The free pool tables are one updated feature in the SLC.

Amber Englebert

Returning Southern students may notice the Student Life Center received a face-lift over the summer.

“Lots of changes downstairs, certainly from requests from students,” said Darren S. Fullerton, director of campus recreation and wellness. “We’re moving away from coin-operated pool tables. Show your student ID to check the balls out, then play.”

“In the weight room, we’ve received a lot of pieces from athletics in the aerobics room, we’re trying to offer activities there.”

The cafeteria has also seen some changes this summer.

“We have brand new carpet in there,” said Munawar Ahmed, food services manager. “We have a new cook display area and more options for the students to pick what they like. We have expanded the dessert area and we have moved one of the beverage stations and put it next to an existing one to make it like one-stop shopping.

“These changes were made for the students. They can pick their own things and the food is made right in front of them.”

Initial student response to the improvements has been positive.

“The food is excellent here,” said Jason Heitzman, junior undecided major. “They even have omelets in the morning, which it my favorite because I love omelets, and the dining hall is very nice. I really like it a lot.”

The fitness area has also received good marks.

“The [weight] selection is pretty good,” said Joshua Summers, freshman criminal justice administration major. “They’ve got a lot of different things here so you don’t have to limit yourself.”

Another student offered only one suggestion for the weights area.

“I wish they had more dumbbells,” said Shawn Fitch, sophomore undecided major. “But otherwise, the weight machines are great.”

The SLC has come a long way from its initial opening 10 years ago. Insufficient funds for outside contractors pushed the Missouri Southern physical plant and its crew of three carpenters to pick up and finish construction. While officially opened Aug. 29, 1996, without the cafeteria, the facility was not complete until mid-November of that year.

However even with this year’s improvements and improvements done over the years, there are concerns that the recreational area of the SLC does not have the funding or room to adequately serve Southern students.

“The Student Life Center falls under the residence halls,” Fullerton said. “It’s part of their funding right now, so there really is no budget established for the Student Life Center.

“Basically when things break down we have to go back to the administration and ask for money for repair or replacement.”

The SLC in that regard is in a losing race against time, said Dean of Students Doug Carnahan.

“It [SLC] was obsolete by the time it was built,” said Carnahan. “It was not big enough for the kinds of things we would like to do there. We wish everything was bigger – the computer lab, the T.V. lounge, the aerobics area.”

“One of the things that makes our Student Life Center so congested at the moment is in any given semester we’ll have three to five academic classes that go over and use that facility.”

University administrators believe the opening of the proposed Student Recreational Center will open up room for further improvements to the Student Life Center.

“When we get our new Student Recreation Center, when we get those exercise machines taken out of there, it will make more area for a lounge and for pool tables and maybe expanding the lab,” Carnahan said.

Fullerton told The Chart discussions are still ongoing as to whether classes will still be held in the SLC after the SRC opens.