- Associated Press - Monday, January 12, 2015

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - As students make their way back to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette after the winter break, they’ll find a new Student Union where they can eat, drink and socialize.

After two years of construction, The Advocate reports (http://bit.ly/14LdUgo ) the university’s new hub for student activity is set to open with the start of the spring 2015 semester this week.

“It’s been a two-year process, and the process has been good,” said Garland Rodriguez, assistant director of building services for UL-Lafayette. “We’re very excited for this thing to be open not only for the students but also the public.”

The new union will have a soft launch on Wednesday as a few featured components of the building are not complete.

The new 178,000-square-foot union dwarfs its 125,000-square-foot predecessor with amenities like an art museum, multiple food stations, a larger dining hall and a large courtyard overlooking the university’s Cypress Lake.

“This will be a one-stop shop for students,” Rodriguez said.

The first real part of the union to get up and going is the Cypress Lake Dining Hall, which has been feeding students since last week.

Other features that will open this week include the student meeting rooms, coffee shop, other food stations and administration offices.

Rodriguez said out of all the features students were excited about in the union, the new dining hall probably was top on their lists.

“I really like the ice cream machine,” said mechanical engineering major and building services worker Brennan Landry. “It’s not up yet, but once it starts running, it ought to be good.”

The new dining hall will have the capacity to seat and feed about 800 students at one time, almost twice as many as the previous union’s 450.

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Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com

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