The conversation of creating a student union on Linfield’s campus has been on-going for many years. However, senior Bradley Keliinoi, vice president of the Associated Students of Linfield College, is working to turn the idea into action.
There are a variety of reasons that Linfield has been without a student union, many of which have been addressed and discussed but not yet solved. Keliinoi pointed out two main reasons for the lack of a union.
The first being finances, and the fact that in terms of time and money, a student union is “not a top priority issue for the college,” he said.
With many restorations and renovations of existing halls on the list, a student union is not seen to be as vital of a project. The second problem he addressed was a lack of student initiative.
While it becomes difficult to reevaluate finances and change the priorities of an institution, Keliinoi has worked to remove student initiative from the list of obstacles.
Since last fall, with the help of former ASLC Vice President Katie Patterson, he has been working with the Campus Improvement Committee in Senate to “ask questions, seek out answers and develop plans toward a student union,” he said.
Early on, the committee discussed whether it should advocate the construction of a new student union, or the renovation of an existing building.
“After looking at past attempts to create a student union and recognizing the limitations in which we are working under, we decided that our best chance was to advocate for [renovation of an already existing building],” Keliinoi said. “Currently, we believe we can make a strong case to the administration that existing Riley Hall, with renovations, could function as our student union.”
During January Term, Keliinoi presented an idea to the head of the Campus Improvement Committee, sophomore Mariah Torres, who Keliinoi said has had an essential role in the development of the student union conversation.
He suggested that the Campus Improvement Committee go on tours of nearby college campuses in order to gain ideas and insight from seeing their student spaces.
On March 16, Keliinoi, Torres and members of the Campus Improvement Committee made a trip to Western Oregon University and Willamette University.
Keliinoi said the goal of the trip was to get ideas and inspiration and to help the committee realize that its goal of creating a student union is in reach.
“From the discussions I had with the committee afterward, I really believe the goal of the trip was met. We were inspired, we had ideas, and most importantly, we had an even greater dedication to this project, and seeing it through,” Keliinoi said.
He said they walked away from the tours with a more clear goal and vision in mind for bringing these ideas to Linfield.
“Our vision is that Riley Hall will become our student union—a community space for students to interact, study, hang out and actively participate as a member of this student body,” Keliinoi said. “We also hope that students will get behind this project and support the steps that will be necessary toward moving forward on this project.”
Because of the clarification of ideas, Keliinoi said that he believes the potential future of this project has been further realized.
“One of the biggest takeaways of the trip was believing that this project, creating a student union, is something that we can achieve,” he said. “Our vision moved closer to reality. Now more than ever, we believe this can and will be accomplished in the long term. We’ve laid the first bricks, and I hope current and future Linfield students continue to build upon the foundation we’ve created.”
Andra Kovacs/Senior reporter
Andra Kovacs can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.