Goodbye Vision mural, hello new Otter Student Union

Part Three: Interview with the OSU

By Jessenya Guerra
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A substantial portion of the Vision mural has now been demolished, as dirt work and site preparation for the new Otter Student Union continues. Photo by Griffin Dehne.

On Oct. 25, the Vision mural began to be demolished to make way for the new Otter Student Union building (OSU). The following question and answer session was answered over email by Chelsea Buffington, director of the Otter Student Union building. The following answers were received by The Lutrinae on the morning of Oct. 25, while the demolition of the Vision mural was beginning.

The Lutrinae: What does the new Otter Student Union Building mean for our campus?
Chelsea Buffington: The Otter Student Union will transform the California State University, Monterey Bay’s (CSUMB) campus, providing a space devoted to embracing OSU’s mission as the “heartbeat of campus and a bridge to surrounding communities, providing spaces, opportunities and advocacy that cultivate belonging reflective of CSUMB’s founding vision.” The Otter Student Union fosters communities, values voices, cultivates social justice, and is rooted in care and the new building will provide spaces and programming devoted to these values.

The variety of flexible spaces designed into the Union will increase the types and amount of spaces for student use on campus. The OSU will be home to the Otter Cross Cultural Center, three new retail dining options, beautiful outdoor spaces, including a Quad terrace, and will hold the Starbucks, which currently resides in the Student Center. Additionally, the OSU will include a space for a mural visible from Inter-Garrison that will continue telling new stories as we look toward the future of CSUMB.

L: How much is the OSU costing and how much are students paying?
B: Students began the process of conducting feasibility studies for a new union in 2012. Students, staff and faculty were in support of creating a new union and students voiced their approval to increase their fees in order to support this endeavor. Students pay fees of $350 per semester. The construction contract for the Otter Student Union was $55 million.

L: When is the OSU expected to open and is construction on time?
B: The Otter Student Union is expected to open in 2020. Construction is currently on time.

L: What decisions were made regarding the removal of the mural?
B: The location of the Otter Student Union was determined as part of the Campus Master Plan, which focuses the center of campus on the Quad. The site of the former Parking Lot 12 was selected as it provided an opportunity for a welcoming entry to campus from Inter-Garrison with accessible, inclusive access to the center of campus. In order to accomplish this accessibility, including ADA provisions, the entrance to the Union off Inter-Garrison needed to be at street level, which required the removal of the retaining wall on which multiple murals have been painted.

L: Why is the mural not being preserved or moved to another location?
B: It is infeasible to move or preserve the current mural on the retaining wall because moving it would compromise its structural integrity. The retaining wall was constructed for its specific location and not ever intended for removal to a new location. As such, the wall would not stay intact if removal were attempted. Images of the current mural have been catalogued for historic preservation and will be available, along with previous mural images, in the CSUMB Library. A space for a mural has been identified on the new Otter Student Union. The new mural will be visible from Inter-Garrison.

L: When is the official removal of the mural scheduled?
B: As part of construction sequencing, removal of the retaining wall has begun and will be completed before winter break.

L: Is there anything being done to honor the mural, perhaps a candle light ceremony?
B: OSU is collaborating with the Visual and Public Art department to host an event that focuses on the past three murals as well as upon the plan for a mural space on the new Union. The event will likely be held on Friday, Nov. 30.

L: Is there anything else you would like to add or say regarding the new Otter Student Union Building and the Vision mural?
B: The new Otter Student Union is a continuation of the process to embrace CSUMB’s founding vision to “feature an enriched living and learning environment and year-round operation.” The new OSU will provide for excellent opportunities to enrich the lives of its students, faculty, staff, alumni and surrounding community members through expansive programming and opportunities to tell the ever-transpiring CSUMB and Monterey Bay stories. The new Union is expected to open in 2020, when CSUMB will turn 25 years old. This new building will be an investment “in preparation for the future,” beginning the next quarter century of stories for this institution.

For more information on the mural, read the first two parts of the Vision mural series.

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