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College of Southern Nevada opens 3 student union buildings

The College of Southern Nevada has three new student union buildings — one for each of its campuses.

The project — at CSN’s Charleston, North Las Vegas and Henderson campuses — cost about $81 million. Groundbreaking was held in May 2018, and the buildings opened to students in August. A ceremony was held Oct. 29 at the Charleston campus, serving as a grand opening for all three buildings.

Many years ago, CSN students — predominately from student government — saw the need to have their own space and pushed for the construction of student union buildings.

“It’s like a hub for students,” said Brian Akins, director of student life and leadership development at CSN. “We wanted to have that on our campus.”

Many other public community colleges across the nation, he said, don’t have such a space.

It’s a place where students can eat, study and hang out with friends, said Summer Shams, a 19-year-old student at CSN’s Henderson campus. “It’s everything that a student would need.”

It’s a safe environment, she said, adding, “It definitely helps out the Henderson campus a lot to add amenities for students to grab a hold of.”

CSN’s student union buildings are open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays. Hours will eventually be extended to meet the needs of after-hours students, Akins said.

CSN contributed $7 million from its general improvement fund toward constructing the buildings.

The bulk of the money for the project, though, comes from an additional $8-per-credit student registration fee that went into effect in fall 2017. For full-time students taking 15 or more credits, that totals about $120 per semester.

Other sources of funding for the project: a $3-per-credit fee for summer classes, and a $1-per-credit-hour fee to support the continued operation and maintenance of the new buildings.

Building features

The student union buildings — which span 28,887 square feet — have identical floor plans and include a “Coyote Cupboard” food pantry to help students who are food-insecure, Akins said.

Other features: private study rooms; student government offices; ballrooms that can be used for programs, activities and meetings; a multicultural center; dining facility and coffee shop.

“Students love it and are thrilled by it,” Akins said.

In North Las Vegas, the student union was named the Tyrone Thompson Student Union during a dedication ceremony Nov. 14. Thompson, a 51-year-old Democratic state lawmaker from North Las Vegas, died May 4 in Carson City after a sudden illness.

Thompson was “long known as a tireless advocate for education and mentorship, particularly for low-income and minority students like many of those CSN serves every day,” the college said in a statement.

At the Henderson campus, Shams said she has witnessed the diversity of the student body by spending time in the student union building.

“Most people think the Henderson side is kids from Foothill (High School) and Coronado (High School), but it’s really from all over Las Vegas,” she said.

Shams — who grew up in California, but moved with her family to Henderson three years ago — graduated from Coronado High School. She wasn’t sure which college to attend, and her cousin told her about CSN. Now, Shams is a sophomore pre-medicine student, majoring in biology.

Across CSN’s campuses, the new student union buildings feel comfortable for students, said Oscar Rubio, a student government senator at CSN’s North Las Vegas campus. He’s a Las Vegas sophomore who’s studying criminal justice.

Students have a place to eat, socialize and study, the 19-year-old said. Elsewhere on campus, “you don’t really get that vibe.”

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter.

CSN campuses

Charleston campus

Where: 6375 W. Charleston Blvd.

Call: 702-651-5000

Enrollment (fall): 14,106

Henderson campus

Where: 700 College Drive

Call: 702-651-3000

Enrollment (fall): 4,907

North Las Vegas campus

Where: 3200 E. Cheyenne Ave.

Call: 702-651-4000

Enrollment: 9,396

Online/distance education

Enrollment (fall): 16,608 students

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