Ohio Union

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Ohio Union
The newly built Ohio Union
Alternative names The Union
General information
Type Student activity center with ballroom and theater
Architectural style Postmodern
Location Ohio State University
Town or city Columbus, Ohio
Country USA
Coordinates 39°59′54″N 83°00′28″W / 39.998361°N 83.00776°W / 39.998361; -83.00776Coordinates: 39°59′54″N 83°00′28″W / 39.998361°N 83.00776°W / 39.998361; -83.00776
Completed 2010 (2010)
Technical details
Floor count 3

The Ohio Union, established in 1910, was the first student union at a public university.[1] Serving The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, United States, the union functions as the student activity center; providing facilities for student activities, organizations/events, and a meeting place for campus and community interaction. Many student services and programs are housed in the union, along with dining and recreational facilities. It also serves as the home base for the D-Tix program, which provides discounted tickets to students. On March 29, 2010, a new building was erected to house the union.[2]

Early history[edit]

The first Ohio Union was located in Enarson Hall in 1910. The union remained at this location until 1951. The university was able to get $75,000 of funding for the Ohio Union through the 77th Ohio General Assembly. The building was officially named the "Ohio Union" on October 29, 1909 and was opened in 1910. Building maintenance fees were charged to only male students because female students enrolled at Ohio State were only allowed one day out of the week to use the union on "Ladies Day." In 1913 Edward S. Drake was hired in as the manager of the union. During that time, Drake spent the majority of his time involved in student organizations such as Phi Sigma Kappa, Romophos, Bucket and Dipper, Spinx, and the Ohio Staters. In 1921, the second floor of the Union was used by the Ohio Stadium building committee. Also, during World War I the Ohio Union served as a hall and recreational center for quartered troops who lived on campus. Since then, the Union has been moved to a different location.

Evolution of the Ohio Union[edit]

The Women's Union[edit]

As mentioned before the Ohio Union only served as a student hall for male students enrolled at the University. Since there were only a small portion of women attending the university in the early 1900s, it was thought that they did not need a student union of their own. A small room in the university's building, University Hall was reserved for the use of the women's social center. It was nicknamed the "Gab Room" and maintained by the Ohio State Women's Council at the time, which they paid a 25 cent yearly membership fee to use the room. As more women started to attend the university it was clear that the small room in University Hall was not going to fit their needs. The Women's Council came before the board of trustees and demanded money for the construction of a new union. The board of trustees denied the women the funds for a new union space and advised them to bring the matter up to the University legislature to ask for funds for their building. The Women's Council then launched a campaign to get support of the construction of a new union for the women. Their hard work paid off and $150,00 was given for the construction of a new women's building. But, since this was around the time of the first World War, the construction was delayed because there was a University ban on any type of building construction until after the war was over. The patience was well worth it. After the war was over another $90,000 was allocated to the construction of the building. Even with the $240,000 funds for construction, it was still not enough to fully build everything. It was then decided that the building would have to be built in two different phases, the first being in 1919. The first phases included a gym as well as a recreational center. The second phase, and the completion of the building in 1927 included an indoor swimming pool, lounges, cafeteria and a kitchen for the women. The women's new building was named Pomerene Hall and is now used today for the History of Arts building, disability services and a campus dining area, Mirror Lake Creamery & Grill.

The first co-ed Ohio Union (1951–2007)[edit]

The first co-ed Ohio Union was built in 1951. Before any of this happened though, the students of The Ohio State University came together and petitioned for a new union that allowed for the men women own equal rights and visits to the union. The students felt very strongly that they should have equal rights, so much that they even agreed to contribute to the costs of making a new union. Construction of the new union went underway in June 1949 and it was completed two years later in 1951. This Union housed a dining room, two ballrooms, a browsing library, music lounge, pool tables, a 16-lane bowling alley and nineteen offices used for various student organizations. As the decades passed, the Union made sure to adjust to the needs of the students accordingly. In the 1960s and '70s during the Vietnam War the Union strove to be of service to students that were going through an era of protest and warfare. In 1985, as technology was advancing and the creation of the computer evolved, a micro-computer lab was made in the Union to help students with research and various studies. As time passed, not only did technology advance, but so did the modern standards of living. By the late 1980s the Union began to lose its charisma to students. Also, a study done in 1986 found that about $10 million would need to be added by 1994 to fix the plumbing, roofing and heating system in the union. In 1994 there were plans to renovate the Union, but those plans were shot down in 1996 by the Student Council. Rebecca Park, director at the time, promised to fully satisfy the needs of the students, with the Union Mission by providing the best recreational activities she could. She also decorated the Union with a scarlet and grey theme, matching the school's colors. Even with the changes, the Union still was outdated. In the 2003–2004 school year, a proposition to build a new Union was brought up again, and the three student governments at Ohio State agreed to campaign a rally to start the construction of a new building. To help with the student's campaign, Union staff went to different residence halls and also to any other students who were interested in learning about a new Ohio Union by putting on a 'road-show' exhibit. Finally, in June 2004, all the campaigning was successful and the Board of Trustees agreed with the plans to tear down the old Union and start the construction of a new one. The old Union was torn down in 2006 and construction of the new Union began one month later.

The New Union[edit]

The new Ohio Union, completed in 2010, now serves as Ohio State's center for dining, recreation, meetings, and events. Students at Ohio State helped to decide some of the design aspects of the Union, such as color schemes, types of furniture, and the architectural design of the building. The Ohio State University partnered with Habitat for Humanity during the destruction of the old Union and donated all the useful parts of the building to them. The new Union is a LEED Silver Certified Green Building and has also been issued an official GreenSpot by the city of Columbus, Ohio. Today the Ohio Union is home to four dining areas, Sloopy's, Woody's Tavern, Union Market, and Espress O-H. There is also a gift shop located in the Union called Station 88.

Directors of the Ohio Union[edit]

  • 1908 : Aaron Cohn "Father of the Ohio Union"
  • 1913 : Edward S. "Beanie" Drake
  • 1958–83 : Wendell Ellenwood
  • 1983–88 : John Ellinger
  • 1994–2001 : Rebecca Parker
  • 2001–Present : Tracy Stuck



  1. ^ "The Ohio Union at Ohio State University". ohiounion.osu.edu. Retrieved 2015-10-08. 
  2. ^ "Ohio Union History". The Ohio State University. Retrieved 2010-12-30. 

External links[edit]