Following years of planning, debate and uncertainty, preliminary preparations for D.P. Culp University Center renovations have begun. Construction will commence in full force at the end of this Spring semester. The $45 million project is estimated to be completed in Spring 2020. The grand reopening is slated for the Fall 2020 semester.
Only the post office will remain open and intact throughout the renovation. The bookstore will be moved to the third floor ballroom. The Market Place will remain open through fall 2018 and spring 2019, but will be closed throughout later phases. Atrium Food Court eateries (Chick-fil-A, Taco Bell, Toss and Quiznos) will shut down during the renovation period.
Many of the services and offices in the Culp Center will be moved to different points throughout campus such as the Burgin Dossett Hall, the CPA, the Sherrod Library and the Lucille Clement Hall. To compensate for the temporary loss of retail dining, a second line will be opened in the Garage C-Store Subway. Additionally, Starbucks will be operating out of Treehouse Takeout. Along with additional grab-and-go options, a new food truck will begin operating on campus.
Whatever their eventual results may be, the Culp Center renovations will undoubtedly inconvenience students. Many are bound to lose favored dining options. The myriad temporary location changes will surely cause much confusion. Should important services be moved to less accessible buildings, students with physical disabilities may find it difficult to reach them.
I spoke with many students regarding their opinions on the matter. Responses varied, but the majority had an apathetic or negative view on the matter. Many cited the fact that they will have graduated by the time renovations are complete.
“In my opinion, they’re putting the cart before the horse,” said philosophy major Kenneth Brooks. “It’s not right to inconvenience current students on account of something they’ll never use, especially when that something isn’t a necessity.”
One prevailing opinion was that the $45 million would be better spent on other things.
“You have to tolerate inconveniences to make progress,” Brooks said, “but the parking situation at ETSU is more important than renovations. Even right now, we could use another parking garage or two. If the administration is looking to increase enrollment, they really need to build more spaces to account for the influx in students.”
Indeed, the opinion that improving parking should take priority over renovating the Culp Center appears very common.
“I’d prefer it if they focused on parking instead,” echoed criminal justice major Sabrina Cullom.
While outright disapproval of the renovations appear relatively rare, it seems most students are more concerned with current conveniences and accessibility than future improvements.
Whatever one’s opinion may be, the Culp Center is bound to be vastly improved by the time the renovations complete in 2020.