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Students talk pros and cons of SAC renovation

It’s been a time of change for the building formerly known as Alcuin.

The building was renamed to the Student Activities Center (SAC) in Sept. after the Archabbey released a list of 12 alleged sexual abusers – which included the building’s former namesake.

But back in the summer, the building received a more physical overhaul: renovations, mainly on the upstairs.

These included: a new floor in the main area; wider interior doors, which meet more accessibility standards; new LED lights, which are much more energy efficient and include dimmers to control light levels; new window blinds; painting; a new counter top in the kitchen; refurbishing the corner office; a completion of the partial wall between the main room and the weight room, which decreases noise travelling; and technical updates such as an improvement in the sound system and the additions of a projector and a screen.

This information is from Douglas Eppley, director of facilities, who said the renovations were an improvement.

“It was a need, and everyone recognized it needed some help,” he said. “It was in poor shape, it didn’t look nice, the floor was beat up, the walls needed painted, the lights were bad and old.”

Saint Vincent administration made the renovations a priority, he said, because there is a lot of activity in the building, such as student club activities and dances.

“Even the Steelers go in there now,” Eppley said.

He explained that the NFL team used the building’s main room, which has a capacity of over 100 people, to hold team meetings this summer.

FMO did some of the renovations itself, such as the electrical work, but contracted local workers to for other tasks, such as flooring, Eppley said; IT did the technical updates.

Eppley said Br. Norman Hipps O.S.B., president of the college; Rev. Paul Taylor O.S.B., executive vice president; the business office; residence life and FMO were among the many involved with the decision to renovate.

A generous grant from class of 1970 alumni Mr. and Mrs. Paul Giunto began the funding for the renovations, with other donors following their lead, according to Fr. Taylor, Eppley noted.

Eppley said he is not aware of any other planned SAC improvements.

While he considers the renovations a job well done, he expressed interest in hearing what students think.

Sara O’Callaghan, a junior early education major, and Alyssa Baker, a sophomore biology major, are both students who use the SAC. O’Callaghan is the instructor for a weekly cardio kickboxing group and Baker is the president of the fencing club, both of which use the SAC regularly.

O’Callaghan and Baker had positive feedback for the changes, while characterizing the building’s pervious state as run down.

“Overall, I am pleased with the changes made to Alcuin, mostly because it looks much nicer and makes the environment more welcoming,” O’Callaghan said.

She is especially pleased with the new floors, which she said are “much more aesthetically pleasing” than the old ones, which were “very work out.”

Baker also approved of the floors, saying they make for a great fencing surface. She added that the new lights, which now have dimmer switches enabling different levels of light, are “nice if one wants to add a bit of dramatic flair to a bout.”

The students did report drawbacks, however.

O’Callaghan said the new lights are dim and make the room “fairly dark sometimes” for her 7 p.m. cardio kickboxing class. She did not realize, though, that the lights were on dimmers, and explained the problem could be the dimmers being turned down.

But her biggest issue was with the updated sound system. O’Callaghan said she has been bringing a portable speaker provided by Campus Life to her class since the sound system now requires a newly added screen to be lowered, which covers the mirrors she utilizes.

She said IT told her the sound system has been rewired so she can play sound without lowering the screen, but she is yet to try it out.

O’Callaghan also mentioned that the kitchen in the SAC has been locked every time she has been in the building this year, saying she used the kitchen repeatedly last year and has been unable to do so this year.

Baker said that after every fencing meet since the renovations, her club has had to remove the tape they put on the floor to mark lanes for matches, as instructed by Angela Zalich, assistant director of operations management.

“But, it is worth it to preserve the looks and function of the building for everyone on campus,” she said. “Overall, these aesthetic updates make for a very clean finish.”

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