Student Activities Center at Clayton State University
CLAYTON STATE UNIVERSITY
Four-year, suburban, commuter, public
Location: Morrow, Georgia
STUDENT ACTIVITIES CENTER (SAC)
Year Built: 2008
Size: 62,000 sq. ft.
Annual Operating Budget: $198,652
Executive Director: Natasha Hutson
Student Staff: 35 part-time
Nonstudent Staff: 11 full-time
One thing campus life professionals often say after a new building opens or a renovation is completed is that the work to improve the facility really never ends. That is exactly what the staff at Clayton State University’s Student Activities Center (SAC) experienced after their facility opened in 2008.
The SAC hosts a ballroom space, a computer lab and printing center, the Center for Student Involvement and its components (student government, the student newspaper, and the student-run radio station), the campus programming board, as well as a large green space, tennis courts, and a low-elements challenge course. Several years after moving into the building, the games room and café were switched to create a gaming zone in the lobby with more space for pool tables, air hockey, and table tennis. The café moved into the former games room and was redubbed Laker Lounge, which then created an additional reservable space and quiet study. Then four years ago a second floor, open area was repurposed to create three additional office spaces for professional staff, graduate assistants, and an AmeriCorps program coordinator.
And then there was the hard-wiring: When users walked into the SAC they quickly realized the building had twice as many ethernet ports as power outlets, and with that, many of those ethernet ports were discovered to be in very unusual places, including on the side of a cylindrical pillar located in the middle of the lobby. An analysis of data port usage has since led to the disconnection of less accessible ports and to the addition of power outlets where needed.
Clayton State SAC serves as one of three distinct departments, along with the Department of Campus Life and the Department of Recreation and Wellness. The Department of Campus Life supports all student organizations, fraternal life, multicultural programs, experiential leadership programs, and volunteerism opportunities. The third member of the family, the Department of Recreation & Wellness, provides students with a fitness center, classes in group exercise studios, intramural sports (including flag football, kickball, dodgeball, volleyball, indoor soccer, and basketball), and outdoor adventure trips that include horseback riding, hiking, skydiving, white water rafting, and camping. With that three-pronged functionality, the SAC stands as the premiere location for major student programming and large events, and while funded by student fees, external clients can rent available spaces for meetings, private receptions, and weddings, and the community can also purchase gym memberships. It’s one of only three campus buildings offering the ease of single stream recycling.
The SAC is becoming more environmentally friendly beyond recycling, having replaced the original water heaters with high-efficiency models that use one-third the energy. Additionally, halogen lamps on the intramural basketball court were shifted to LED lamps that last longer and conserve energy, and exterior and interior lighting are on timers. Finally, the SAC’s dependence on exterior windows provides a quantity of natural light and an opportunity for further energy savings.
Still, there is the future to think about, and executive director Natasha Hutson feels what many other union and activity center directors feel: The need for more space. If the SAC saw an unexpected windfall, she knows exactly where the money should go.
“If we could, we would focus on building out for more storage and programming space, and we would increase the size of our ballroom and add a green room or dressing room,” she said. “We would also update some existing spaces. Everything works fine, but we could use updated controls in our ballroom, new projectors, replace some monitors, and revamp some lighting systems.”