Southwestern College Breaks Ground on $101 Million Student Union

folks with shovels in hand to turn dirt as part of groundbreaking
Superintendent/President Dr. Mark Sanchez and Governing Board President Roberto Alcantar (center) are joined by students, cheerleaders and Johnny Jaguar to turn the dirt for Student Union groundbreaking.

Southwestern College Governing Board members, leadership, students and contractors broke ground recently on the district’s newest construction project–a $101 million Student Union.

The string of rainy days stopped briefly and the sun shone as nearly 100 students, college employees and community members gathered for the Monday event.

“I have to admit I was nostalgic when we took down the cafeteria, as I spent more time playing dominoes there than studying,” said Southwestern’s Superintendent/President Dr. Mark Sanchez. “But we are transforming Southwestern College physically and academically.

“Proposition Z is a testament to the pride and investment our community has in our college,” Sanchez said. “We understand that investment, and we take it seriously.”

The Student Union will become the new hub of student life. It will house a new cafeteria, bookstore and office spaces for the Veterans’ Resource Center, Learning Communities, the SWC Cares Hub (which includes the Jag Kitchen Food Pantry and Cares Closet). Also included is space for Personal Wellness, the Culinary Arts program and meeting spaces for the Associated Student Organization (ASO).

Within the two-story building, which is located in the center of the Chula Vista campus, will be ballroom space and outdoor eating areas, allowing community members to also gather.

“It has been the vision of our Governing Board to give the community a facility it truly deserves,” said Governing Board President Roberto Alcantar.

gif of students and Johnny Jaguar tossing dirt from Student Union groundbreaking.
Associated Students Organization members, cheerleaders and Johnny Jaguar take their turn in tossing dirt for Student Union groundbreaking.

ASO President Imani Drew understands the importance of a central gathering place for students.

“The Student Union is an amazing place to hang out after class and to bond with each other,” Drew said. “Please know that your investment in us means that we will go forth into our community and leave our marks for good.”

The Student Union is scheduled to be completed in the winter of 2024. The building was designed by Gensler and the construction manager is Balfour Beatty Construction.

College leaders and contractors take turns shoveling dirt for groundbreaking.
College leaders, members of IBEW Local 569 and Balfour Beatty Construction, which both helped underwrite the event, participate in Student Union groundbreaking.
Southwestern College's construction program management team pose at groundbreaking
Members of the Propositions R/Z construction program management team pose with Johnny Jaguar at Student Union groundbreaking.