Student unions are the social center of university campus life. From faculty and staff to students and visitors, the student union brings together the many populations on a college campus for events, a bite to eat, study sessions and more. As campus populations have swelled, however, budgets that support student unions have struggled to keep pace. People counters can unveil the critical insights to ensure student unions are being appropriately utilized and maintained.
To Expand, or Not to Expand
If your college is like most, you’re attracting more students to campus. This means your user population may have outgrown your current student union. There’s a better way to gather data on how your student union is accommodating students instead of relying on intuition. People counters provide real-time data about how traffic flows through your student unions. They can show which times of the day, week, month and year are the busiest. People counters can also provide information such as the areas that are the most congested or undervalued.
If expansion is among your plans, hard data from people counters can be enormously persuasive when trying to convince your administration to fund an overhaul of your student union. What’s more, you can tie traffic data directly to the value that your student union provides. For example, it can reveal the success of the newest café that opened six months ago. People counters can also highlight the sections that attract the strongest turnout for gatherings and events, which can guide future programming.
There’s another area in which people counters can deliver value. How do you set your student union maintenance and management schedule if you don’t clearly understand how much foot traffic there is? The bottom line: the higher your traffic, the more often you’ll need to schedule regular repairs and cleaning to keep the student union in tip-top shape. By leveraging people-counting data to optimize your maintenance schedule, you can right-size your man hours and ensure that you’re not overpaying for labor.
Set — and Keep — a Sustainable Budget
Let’s face it: dollars are in short supply on college campuses today. Everyone’s competing for their small slice of a shrinking pie, so when it comes time to make the case for funding the student union, data from people counters can give you the edge.
Without data from people counters, it is difficult to:
- Create realistic hours that the facility should be open. Also, if your people-counting data shows strong traffic right at opening hours, you may want to test opening even earlier to satisfy demand. This can also drive additional revenue at any eateries and other places of commerce inside the union.
- Equip the student union with sufficient personnel. Traffic data can help you align staffing levels with actual usage demand. This way, workers aren’t standing are idly when students and faculty have all but vanished.
- Budget sufficiently for facility maintenance. If you’re simply playing a guessing game, you may blow through your annual budget in just half a year — or be forced to cut back and risk complaints on cleanliness (or even safety) from students and staff.
Your budget approval process will go more smoothly if you show the administration that the student union budget you’ve created is grounded firmly in reality.
If you care about your student union, you should leverage people-counting technology and its ability to reveal that value that your critical campus buildings provide.