New Veterans Plaza Aims to Help Connect Student Veterans With Campus


Tess Chandler

From left to right: Ron Labetich, Tess Chandler, Thuy Nguyen, and Judy Miner at the groundbreaking for the new Veterans Resource Center plaza.

Ground was broken for construction of the new plaza outside of the Veterans Resource Center by President Thuy Nguyen on April 10, alongside Chancellor Judy Miner, Foothill-De Anza Foundation Director Tess Chandler, and Los Altos Rotary Club member Ron Labetich.

The project was spearheaded by Labetich, who himself is a veteran, to improve the conditions of the plaza so that student service members have a place they could gather outside.

“We want to make it comfortable and inviting… I used to walk by and would see how worn down it was” said Labetich, of the old plaza.

Veteran and student Christian Stewart had similar thoughts on the area.

“It was a waste of space kinda that wasn’t pleasant to look at.  Now we’re going to have something nice, someplace to sit.”

Though initially planned as a space specifically for veterans, the project has expanded to include students with disabilities and the student body at large. Labetich hoped the new plaza will engage more of the student body and create a better connection with veterans on campus.

“The whole thing will be ADA compliant, with drought tolerant plants… hopefully it [will see] a lot of regular student body use,” he said.

Julie Brown, the Foothill College veterans resource specialist, had similar hopes, and encouraged non-veteran students to come to the Veteran Resource Center to learn more about their classmates.

“I think it’s a good thing to keep the community involved, because a lot of students don’t know about our center… I think it can be a learning place for civilians. Lots of people have certain views about the military but don’t know much about the lives of veterans on campus,” she said.

One student veteran, Elisha Ross-Jackson, had some concerns about the space being too popular.

“A lot of vets already don’t use the services here. I think some people might not show up because they might not want to be around crowds, and the plaza might attract a lot of civilians.”

While the construction was originally slated to be finished July 4, VRC staff reported that the project could potentially finish ahead of schedule, as early as mid May.  All students are encouraged to come explore the plaza upon completion.