It’s a place at the heart of campus most students visit once a day, if not more. It’s where students eat, study, hang out and possibly nap. The Student Union is a vital place for LSU students and has been for 56 years.
The Union was first proposed in The Daily Reveille in 1939 but was not a proposed plan until 1958, according to the Auxiliary Services website.
The construction of the Union was funded by a $1.7 million allocation from the Board of Supervisors and $10 student fee, according to LSU Student Union records. The building was first made available to students on Jan. 6, 1964.
🎂On this day in 1964, the LSU Student Union was born! Check out our Insta stories to go down memory lane and join us in wishing this awesome place a very Happy 56th Birthday! pic.twitter.com/lyjcVEfO5f— LSU Student Union (@LSUStudentUnion) January 6, 2020
When the Union was built it was thought to be “the University’s living room,” according to LSU Student Union records. For many students, including interdisciplinary studies junior Mallori Palmisano, the Union acts as a living room still today.
“The Union is like a safe place,” Palmisano said. “Every- body can come here, chill and get air conditioning and some- thing to eat. It’s in the middle of campus, so that is a good thing about the Union.”
“The LSU Union originally featured, among other things, study rooms and a browsing library, a cafeteria and snack bar, a barbershop, separate men’s
and women’s quiet rest areas, a bowling alley, a music listening room and a bookstore,” according to the LSU Student Union records.
Through the years the Union has been added on to several times and contains almost none of the amenities it had when it first opened. The first of many renovations began in 1987 when the southwest corner was built, and it has had five renovations since.
One of the costlier Union renovations began in 2006. Planning for the project began in 2001. In 2003, the student body voted to increase their $47 Union semester fee by $10 for the next six semesters to help pay for the renovations, which were estimated at $54.6 million.
The project included a “high-tech” lounge area facing Memorial Oak Grove, office space for student organizations, a 24-hour late-night zone, expansion of the Tiger Lair and a new southeast corner entrance.
Students and faculty who attended the 2006 groundbreaking ceremony were optimistic about the Union’s future.
“Today is a day we bring our University forward with our Union,” then-Student Government President Chris Odinet said. “The type of Union we’re going to build is the type to represent the type of campus we have.”
Renovations finished in 2011, with the re-opening of the Tiger Lair. At the time, the food court included Community Coffee, Papa John’s Pizza, Panda Express, Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina, Jamba Juice, Chick-fil-A, Quiznos, Bayou Bistreaux and the On-the-Geaux convenience store.
Previously completed projects included renovations of the Union Theater, new office spaces and the Magnolia Room, which became an “all-you-care-to-eat” restaurant in fall 2010 while the Tiger Lair was under construction.
Today students can enjoy many of the same amenities at the Student Union. While the Union has changed some of the food options it offers, it still has plenty of choices for students to enjoy, such as Smoothie King, McDonald’s, Create, Build Pizza, Einstein Bagels, Big Squeezy Juice, Panda Express, Chick-fil-A, On-the-Geaux and Community Coffee.
Some students, like mass communication freshman Bridget Cotten, wish the Union would expand the food options even further.
“I wish that there were some healthier options,” Cotten said. “I know they have Smoothie King and the Big Squeezy, but a lot of the time they are closed or they aren’t as appealing as Chick-fil-A or McDonald’s.”