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UA News

The Union: Coming to terms with our new home

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Thursday August 23, 2001 |

Phase one of the new student union is complete. After nearly a year and a half of construction, students are able to compare the new Student Union Memorial Center to the old Memorial Student Union.

The old union, built nearly 50 years ago, was replaced due to damages including leaks, rotting pipes and asbestos. The original building was designed to serve only 15,000 students. The new student union, when completed, will accommodate the nearly 74,000 visitors the union receives daily.

As new sections of the union begin to open for business, including the new food court, students have become concerned with many aspects of the new union. While many find the new structure appealing aesthetically, others claim that money has been wasted and that characteristics of the old union will be missed

Questions concerning design, services and need have surfaced. The new union plays an important role in the life of a UA student, and because of this, the Student Union Memorial Center has become one of the most widely discussed topics on campus.

Plan Three Hours for Lunch

By Jessica Lee

Now that some of the fences are down, we suddenly realize there is another side of campus. And the golden gates of heaven have opened to reveal the glorious, blinding new union.

No more sneaking up to touch the bell tower in between class.

There is a bunch of people on campus who are excited about the new building - Domino's, McDonald's, Panda Express, Pepsi and Seattle's Best - and maybe some of the freshmen who never knew the old place.

We aren't upset that the UA administration took it upon itself to build us a new union, but we are a bit perturbed that it spent two years and a classified number of our dollars to build this union.

More importantly, it isn't any better.

Wait, I take that back. Has anyone seen the new chairs in Cafˇ Sonora? They are so beautiful they make me cringe. Talk about money that could have been given to faculty.

The complaints that filled the old union didn't get fixed with the new. There are still long lines, expensive food, mediocre variety and inefficient seating. Some argue that it is worse.

They also care more about bringing in chains instead of providing opportunities to local businesses. How about space for Bison Witches and Bentley's Coffee and Tea?

The UA Administration has clearly stated its values.

It would be nice if the students had some jurisdiction on what their tuition dollars are spent on. Instead, we are witnessing our academic integrity going down the drain with the Fig.

Jessica Lee is an environmental science junior. She can be reached at

Orphans in our own homes

By: Nick Zeckets

Dorms and off-campus housing serve as home for the University of Arizona's 36,000 students when they aren't in classes, but where's home during the school day? Historically the Student Union was home - a meeting place, somewhere the community could see student performances, and a lively yet relaxed atmosphere where Wildcats could unwind between lectures.

Now, the trendy mall atmosphere that has replaced our purportedly ailing union is failing at filling those shoes. Better to have a comfortable old pair of kicks than the new Kobes three sizes too small. It seems ages ago that one could blow off the heat and stress of school in the cellar or at Sam's Place. With three pool tables and no chill mojo to fall into - the union just isn't home.

Marketing and money are commonplace in today's union.

No more convenience, no more enjoyment, and there sure as hell is no more communal feel. You want to see a student performance, sit down with your posse/cru/boys/girls to eat, or shoot a couple of games of stick? Not possible.

Eating areas are teensy weensy, and there are more food options to bring campus in to grub.

Options are great, but being smashed in a corridor for 15 minutes to get to the line of your eatery of choice, only to have to hawk over a table to sit down at for another 15 minutes is not relaxing - it's a trial.

As students, we have no home on campus. We're orphans in our own home. The new facility, only passing because of the options, rates a D in my book.

Nick Zeckets is a near-eastern studies senior. He can be reached at

New union lacks character

By: Laura Winsky

It's bloody hot right now. There's very little that keeps us from floating in the Old Main fountain all day, save the raw sewage-like appearance of the water. However, in a few short weeks, all the way up until early April, the University of Arizona has become one of the most comfortable campuses in the nation.

We spend the winter worshipping the sun while the rest of the country wallows in hail and frost. The architects behind the new union hit the nail on the head when they tripled the patio seating to the new union. They took advantage of Arizona's best attribute - the climate. It will be hard to get up and go to class, when you can enjoy open-air balcony lounging at all hours of the day.

Unfortunately, that's the extent of the praise being heard around campus for the massive heap of granite next to the Administration building. The students knew well that the old Union was ridiculously under code and too small to host our huge family, but who screamed for a Tucson Mall food court replica? The building is a strip mall in the middle of what is supposed to be Tucson's Mecca of higher learning.

The Memorial Student Union was out of style, old and dirty, but it had class and a whole lot of personality. It had a 19th century ballroom for crying out loud. There's a very simple end to this construction phase. No matter how the new union was to be designed, it was still going to be new and sterile, no matter the intent behind it. It will be up to the students to give it character.

Laura Winsky is a political science senior. She can be reached at

No time to get cute

By: Shane Dale

A week or two ago, there were these signs placed in the center of the tables inside the food court of the new student union, where all of our fast food restaurants are now situated. They said something to the effect of, "share a table· and make a new friend!" While that's real cute and all, I think we all know what this implies. If the delightful people who came up with the sign didn't want to be quite as insulting, it would read something like, "unless you spoiled punks wanna eat standing up, you'd better learn to share." Quite honestly, it would probably work better.

Seriously though, while it's nice to have a mall-type food court on campus - all right, a poor man's mall - I liked it a little more when Domino's was Domino's and McDonald's was McDonald's. On the other hand, it's not like there aren't dozens of restaurants surrounding the university if we still want that type of atmosphere.

So yeah, we're spoiled. But what's the point of shelling out a bunch of dough to erect these things only to make college life more of a pain in the ass than it already is? As if we don't have enough fun getting sweat-soaked from class to class and finding a place to park within a mile of where we need to be.

At least they haven't torn down the Park Student Union yet. And hey, maybe this whole Integrated Learning Center thing will have a more generous seating capacity.

Shane Dale is a political science sophomore. He can be reached at

I want everyone out

By: Zack Armstrong

So everyone keeps complaining about the union. I don't see what the big deal is. It's great! It has all of the conveniences of the old Union but you don't have to walk as far to get to them because they're all so much closer together now. Not to mention the fact that they are all the conveniences that make the union money.

There's none of those no-money-making student lounges to get in the way of capitalism. And it's got a Panda Express. I used to have to take the bus all the way to the Tucson Mall if I got a craving for the Panda, but now I can walk there from my house. The problem isn't the union, but rather the people that are always inside of it. There are lots of them. People, people, people. Don't you people understand that I need to eat? All I want is a decent meal and the chance to sit down and enjoy it during the hour I get for lunch, but do I get that? No.

And why? Because of the long lines.

Really long lines. Full of what? Full of people - lots of people. I think I'm making my point clear. So listen up people, and I'll make it simple. Just clear out. I'm not saying it has to be for the whole day, just the hour between noon and one 1 p.m. That's all I ask. I want my Orange Chicken, people.

I need my Orange Chicken.


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