After almost two years of construction, Memorial Union is open to the public
After almost two years of construction and renovation, the Memorial Union (MU) officially reopened to the public on May 18.
After an energized performance from the UC Davis Cal Aggie Marching Band, students and guests were welcomed to the event by ASUCD President Josh Dalavai.
Before introducing the event’s main speaker, Dalavai reminisced with the crowd about the past several years, during which the MU has not been open to students. With its official grand reopening, Dalavai looks forward to the role the space will play for students on campus.
“The MU serves as the living room of campus where students gather between classes to socialize, study, eat and hang out,” Dalavai said.
Dalavai went on to introduce the event’s guest speaker, Emily Prieto-Tseregounis, assistant Vice Chancellor and chief of staff to the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs. Prieto-Tseregounis spoke to the crowd about the Memorial Union’s original founding and its history of four renovations over the years.
When the MU opened in 1955, the space hosted only a dining commons, kitchen, faculty club, student lounge, alumni association offices, soda fountain and student store. Since then, the space has undergone major renovations to ensure the MU remains a utilized central hub for students on campus.
“This comprehensive renovation took the historic Memorial Union and celebrated its history as the home of ASUCD and it being a dynamic on-campus destination for students and the campus community,” Prieto-Tseregounis said.
The MU was originally named and dedicated to commemorate the UC Davis students and alumni who lost their lives during World Wars I and II. Prieto-Tseregounis urged students and guests to come back to the MU on May 25 to be a part of the annual Memorial Day Ceremony, where the new Gold Star Aggie Wall will be revealed.
Among additions to the Memorial Union, Prieto-Tseregounis welcomed the Veterans Success Center as well as the Center for Chicanx and Latinx Academic Student Success, which will be located on the second floor.
Following her speech, student groups including the Liquid Hotplates performed for those in attendance.
Students fighting for a Fossil Free UC Davis came to the event to protest UC Davis’ continued reliance on fossil fuels. At noon students joined in chants and drew words of protest with chalk in front of the MU to show the UC regents they are committed to a future that is not reliant on harmful fossil fuels. On the event’s Facebook page, students demand to know which side of history UC Davis intends to be on.
According to the event’s Facebook page, “by not divesting, our universities have turned their backs on our generation and the scientific community to side with the fossil fuel industry. It’s far past time that our colleges and universities make the choice between the fossil fuel billionaires, and the futures of its students.”
While older UC Davis students eagerly anticipated the reopening of the MU, younger students were excited for their first chance to experience the space. Hetal Patel, a second-year cognitive science major, looks forward to the new study spots that the MU will provide.
“The [Coffee House] is really small and a lot of people like to study there so I think the MU is really nice,” Patel said. “It gives you a nice place to study not in a food opens up a lot more seats and there’s space for group study.”
With the official grand reopening of the MU, students are invited to enjoy the open floor plan with additional spaces to study, relax, game and spend time with friends.
Written by: Ally Russell — firstname.lastname@example.org