GUC renovations represent UNA’s lion pride

Before, the GUC was simply a place for students to grab some lunch or check their mail. After the new renovations, it is a place to study and come together as a university.

When students push open the glass doors of the Guillot University Center, they may have already noticed the makeover the facility received this past fall. However, that was only the beginning of the “face lift” the center will be getting.

In addition to the new furniture and paint on the ground floor, similar renovations are being made to the Performance Center on the second floor.

“We’re about half through the renovations, but that should be done by the end of January,” said Kevin Jacques, the director of the university center and event operations. “It’s looking really good so far. We’re putting a new ceiling in, a new sound system, and they’re working on new lights.”

University Center Operations and Event Management are also renovating the concession stand to where a cooler, a sink and new cabinets. This will come in handy when University Program Council holds events.

“All of this is to make it where [the concession stand is] much more attractive and easier for them to work in so that they’re not having to constantly bring things from downstairs to upstairs,” Jacques said. “Instead, they’ll have a safe place where they can store and lock everything.”

On top of these add-ons, Jacques said they have purchased a yearly subscription to a music platform called Rockbot, which will play music throughout the GUC. For free, students can download Rockbot onto their phones and request songs they want to hear.

While students can suggest music, the platform will also have set timeframes for different genres. In the mornings, the music will be a more upbeat station but every day between 2-3 p.m., it will be international music hour.

Jacques said that one day Rockbot might be streaming K-Pop, Modern Chinese, or Middle Eastern.

“We’re trying to incorporate diversity of music because there are all different types of music,” Jacques said. “We’re exposing people to new things.”

Although students can hear the new music perhaps one of the most noticeable changes to the GUC is something they will have to witness with their own eyes.

If students thought the university already had enough school spirit, they should wait until they see the lion wings or the geometric designs sporting UNA’s colors.

The University Center Operations and Events Management partnered with Bridgett Nelms, Kendall Stansell, Alley Grace and Zoe Sparks from UNA’s art department to have three murals painted on the walls in front of the Transportation Services Office.

These four students took on the task of painting the murals for a final project in their third painting course.

“The assignment was to create an engaging piece of public art, drawing inspiration from murals and street art that we had seen on class trips to Nashville and Atlanta,” Assistant Professor of Visual Arts and Design Parkerson Seward said. “[The murals were] a great way to provide exposure for these artists and an experiential opportunity to them to take what they have learned and studied in the classroom and apply it in a real-world scenario.”

Seward said that the students did a great job of incorporating multiple references from the Nashville and Atlanta street art with the geometric street art designs, lion imagery and wings, and letters based on the neon signs one would see in business windows.

“We have such a very talented pool of student artists and designers in our department,” Seward said. “They work tirelessly to build their skillset, so we always love an opportunity to let them display their talents.”

The four students dedicated weeks to working on the murals. They used acrylic paint and a sugar-based spray paint to bring their digital designs to life, spending about four to seven hours in the GUC.

Sparks, UNA junior, said they only encountered a few obstacles.

“[With the lion cub wall] the first layer of purple paint peeled really bad,” Sparks said. “We had to redo that entire wall because it just kept peeling when we lifted the tape.”

The students also found it hard to scheduling a time to paint.

 “The GUC is only open so late, and we all had class and work,” Sparks said. “We stayed until the GUC closed a couple of nights.”  

Sparks said that she does not think having the mural as a grade affected her work ethic.

“I take a lot of pride in what I create, especially if it’s for the public’s viewing pleasure,” Sparks said. “If my name is attached to a work in any way, I try to give it 100% effort no matter what. Plus, we are representing the art department’s talents in a public space. I would like to think we gave it our best to do the art department justice, not just for a good grade.”

The hope for The University Center Operations and Events Management, with all the upgrades, is to create a destination spot that they could really promote UNA with. One way they could promote is by partnering with LaGrange or SOAR when they are doing their tours and allowing students to get their pictures taken with the murals.

Jacques said that since the GUC has been received these new attributions, he has seen a lot more people hanging out.

“You know the lunch hour is always busy because people want to get food – they want their Moe’s, their Panda Express, and all of that good stuff,” Jaques said. “But we’re seeing people when we’re leaving at 4:35 p.m., there’s still people hanging out.”

 He said that even in the morning before the restaurants are open, he has noticed students studying to where they have their books and computer out, whereas before they may have gravitated to Wendell W. Gunn University Commons.  

“I think [the GUC] is achieving what we were hoping it would,” said Jacques.