Truman State BSU renovation nears completion
KIRKSVILLE – The Oct. 21 party at Truman State University wasn’t just to celebrate the Bulldogs’ homecoming win over Washburn (Kan.) University. Also on the agenda was the grand re-opening of the Baptist Student Union (BSU).
The $950,000 renovation isn’t 100 percent complete – there’s no hot water just yet and the basement is mostly beams and some drywall – but the 2,700 square-foot building, with its prominent tower, is already a campus landmark.
The BSU sits on a piece of prime real estate in the heart of the 6,000-student campus. For many of the students who live at Truman, the BSU is a much closer social hub and meeting place than say the library.
“It’s a pretty high traffic area,” said Adam Trusty, a junior from Iberia and a BSU volunteer. “I hope people will be curious.”
There’s a lot to be curious about. When fully completed, the new facility will sport a multipurpose meeting room with seating for up to 400, an atrium with a lounge, coffee bar and wireless Internet hub, offices, a patio, kitchen, large lounge, student staff work areas and conference rooms. Right now the coffee bar is dominated by three scissor lifts, but Gene Austin, BSU director, said he hopes everything but the basement will be completed by Thanksgiving.
The BSU also sports a clothes washer and dryer and showers enabling them to host ministry teams from out of the area.
“We’ll be the only facility in Kirksville that can house a ministry like that,” Trusty said.
Right now they are mainly using the meeting room for the BSU’s two big weekly events – Fuel, a worship service that brings in more than 100 students and Damascus Road, a more outreach oriented service which averages about 50 students.
“By being off campus for these past four years, we’ve really taken a hit,” Austin said. “The first year we were averaging 175 at Fuel and 125 at Damascus Road and then it started falling. I’m really looking forward to being closer to the students and bringing those numbers up.”
For the last four years, the BSU has been meeting off campus in a downtown banquet hall. Sometimes getting things set up and torn down to accommodate other users got in the way of ministry and wore down his student workers, Austin said.
“It was awfully hard for students to go to class, work at their jobs, then come and do all this extra work at the BSU,” he said.”
“We can’t wait to be able to set our own rules and minister to campus without all the extra restrictions,” Trusty said.
Although Austin said approximately $150,000 is still needed to complete the project, gifts and donations from parents and alumni have funded most of the effort. Cash-strapped current students have also pitched in.
“We tried to make it to where the students bought the tower to give them a sense of ownership,” Trusty said.
And they have; Austin said the students have pledged about $60,000 so far. The week before homecoming Trusty and others spent several days mudding drywall in the basement and painting.
Trusty said the BSU has meant a lot to him and he is happy to give back. Three years ago as a freshman he had no plans to attend the BSU, let alone volunteering hours of work each week.
“I began coming my first semester and I loved it,” he said. “It really opened some doors for me. If I hadn’t gotten involved, I’d probably be sitting in my room doing nothing.”