Happy birthday to “U”
UConn’s Student Union celebrates its 60th anniversary with music, cupcakes and more
Published: Thursday, October 18, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 18, 2012 00:10
Sixty years ago the Student Union opened its doors as the place where students, faculty staff and guests could congregate and enjoy social events.
On Tuesday, UConn celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Union’s opening in 1952. Besides the actual celebration that—in true Student Union style—included live music, giveaways, activities and cupcakes. The union itself has had a long and storied history
University archivist and curator Betsy Pittman shared some of the history of the Student Union and showed photos from its early days in the 50s and 60s. Some of the familiar elements pictured were the ballroom, game room and commuter lounge. Though the names were familiar, the Student Union has certainly grown from its 50s style decorum into one of the most recognizable landmarks of the university.
The Student Union is one of the only buildings on campus that still serves in the same capacity that it was designed for. In an early promotional pamphlet, it is stated, “[At the Union] you will find places to relax, study, meet new friends, enjoy fine food and beverages and participate in the many campus activities that can take place here,” according to Barry M. Wilson who was the director of the Student Union/Student Activities at the time.
A press release from 1953 by C.H. Niles, university news coordinator, said that the Union was built as a memorial to men in the military.
“[The Union is] dedicated as a memorial to the men of the University of Connecticut who have given their lives in two great wars to defend America and the democratic way of life.” Pittman said that there were plaques on display with the names of these soldiers but they were lost in subsequent renovations and have yet to be found.
“The University of Connecticut Student Union shall serve as the center of student activities and as an informal educational agency through its program and facilities,” according to the 1952 Student Union constitution. “The purpose of the Union shall be further extended in that it is a workshop of human relations,” it stated.
The Student Union still is that workshop, from movies in the theater to educational forums and debates in the upstairs meeting rooms. The Union has served students as a place to unwind, study, eat and socialize for 60 years. It houses the student government, cultural centers, organizations, the Student Union Board of Governors and is truly the Hub of the UConn community.
Lea Lavoie, a sophomore, said her favorite part of the Union is the food court area because of the diverse array of foods.
“It’s also a great place to hang out with friends and meet up for a coffee at Dunkin Donuts’,” she said.
Through the years the Union has grown and changed from the Student Union Commons, to the “Hub” to the “U,” and it still remains the community center at the heart of campus.