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Ohio Union celebrates its 5th anniversary

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The Ohio Union turns 5 years old this year. Photo credit: Mark Batke / Photo editor

The Ohio Union turns 5 years old this year.
Photo credit: Mark Batke / Photo editor

Although most people on campus have become familiar with the Ohio Union, it was only five years ago that the current union opened up to officially replace the old one.

“For the vast majority of (current) Ohio State students, it’s always been here,” said Dave Isaacs, spokesman for the Office of Student Life. “They may not be able to relate to the fact that this building is so special and replaced a building that outlived its usefulness.”

To celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Ohio Union, festivities, such as a celebrity guessing game, musical chairs and photo booths, will start on Wednesday and run until Sunday, the same date the new Ohio Union first opened in 2010.

Additionally, people can celebrate through social media by sharing what the Ohio Union means to them in five words or less on Twitter using the hashtag #OhioUnion5, and a “Flat Union” will be available for people to take pictures of themselves with.

The Flat Union was inspired by the Flat Stanley Project, an educational movement that has children create their own Flat Stanley based on the 1964 book of the same name. These children document Stanley’s adventures in a journal and through photos, and children can exchange Stanleys with each other, according to the Flat Stanley website.

The Flat Union was originally meant to accommodate alumni who could not go to the Union, allowing them to engage in the anniversary through social media, Isaacs said.

The original Ohio Union building, which was in the same location as the current Union, was open from 1951 until 2007, when it was demolished, according to the Ohio Union website.

“Because of the heavy use of the building, it started to deteriorate, and the basement had some flooding issues, so that didn’t help. I think at the time they looked at it, it really wasn’t appropriate to try to renovate it. It really needed to be torn down,” said Tamar Chute, the university archivist.

Students had a lot of say in the design of the new Ohio Union, and some even sat down with the architects to give their input on the design, color and spacing of the building and its interior, said Tracy Stuck, assistant vice president for Student Life.

“Students were so involved in the process of making decisions, they were really involved in so many phases of the building,” Stuck said. “All the different student governments got together and decided what they (wanted to recommend).”

For many students and student organizations, the Union stands as a central hub for many students to forge new memories at OSU.

“Walking in for the first time (for orientation) was a really cool experience because I think it epitomizes Ohio State,” said Shelby Kitchin, a first-year in forensic biology.  “I think it’s cool since it’s so new, I can grow with it. I feel like I’m a part of a new Ohio State.”

Despite this year being the fifth year of this building’s existence, a student union at OSU has been around for more than 100 years.

According to the Ohio Union website, the concept of a student union started back in 1910 with the then-named Enarson Hall (and currently named Hale Hall) was designated as the first student-focused building on campus. This union, however, was dominated by men, leading to the creation of the women’s building, known as Pomerene Hall.

It wasn’t until 1951 that the original Ohio Union building was opened equally to both men and women. That building served until it was demolished in 2007 for the sake of the currently standing building.

“With the old building, you could have taken it and it could have been plopped down at any institution because there weren’t a lot of things that really stood for Ohio State,” Stuck said. “We wanted to make sure that when you walked into the building, you knew where you were.”

2 comments

  1. I lived on the OSU campus for 12 years, and I was a student employee in the Ohio Union for a year and a half. I always knew where I was, and I think everybody else did, too. The old union was classy and elegant. It was a quiet refuge on the third floor, with a listening center where students would check out record albums. We would go into a booth and listen to music on “head phones”. There was an elegant restaurant to impress those special dates, a really nice little theater for $1 movies, a huge bowling alley in the basement, with great pool tables for those “nothing to do” Friday nights. The elegant ballroom hosted hundreds of events on the first floor, along with a food court, a purveyor of hand-dipped ice cream from Gordon’s, and the world’s biggest McDonald’s. The huge University kitchens served steak dinners to the football team every Friday night during the season.There were meeting rooms for campus organizations, and classrooms for noncredit courses. Newer is NOT always better, kids. It really isn’t.

  2. Dear Alum: While I completely understand what you’re saying, I’m assuming you went to OSU in the 60’s or 70’s (seeing as that’s when vinyl records were prevalent). If you had been to the old Union in 2007, before it was torn down, you would have seen an old, decrept building that was falling apart and very dirty. It wasn’t the Union you knew. This needed to happen. Now there are different restaurants and study areas that are more in touch with the students attending OSU today and in the future. Old is good, and new is not always better, but sometimes it is.

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