10 things you didn’t know about the Memorial Union

Briana Haguewood

1. 2.3 million people pass through the doors of the Memorial Union annually. From the MU Market & Café convenience store to the University Book Store, as well as study lounges on each floor, computer labs, and a Copy Center, the Memorial Union is a one-stop shop for students.

2. There are eight lanes of bowling, nine billiards tables, 10 video games, one Wii gaming system, and one table tennis table available in the Underground, located in the lowest level of the Memorial Union. An intramural bowling tournament is held in the Underground in the spring semester, and special promotions are available to students such as Buck Bowling: $1 each for bowling, shoes, and soda Sundays and Mondays.

Doug Swanson, program assistant for the Underground, said that the Underground will be selling semester passes next fall. For a small fee, students will be able to get unlimited bowling and billiards for an entire semester.

“The Underground is one of the hidden gems in the building. A lot of people don’t know we’re down here,” Swanson said. “The price is much more reasonable than any of the other areas’ competitors, and it’s right here on Central Campus.”

3. This fall, 25 different instructors will teach more than 50 class topics in the Workspace. Some of the topics are taught more than one session because they’re so popular. The Memorial Union’s Workspace is a multi-media art studio where classes such as ceramics, photography, painting, dance, music and literary arts satisfy a variety of interests. The Workspace is the area’s only pay-by-the-day studio, and semester passes are also available for purchase.

4. The Maintenance Shop, also known as the M-Shop, is the longest running live-music venue in the state of Iowa, with 36 years and counting. Notable acts of 2011 include Thompson Square, The Civil Wars, State Radio, and Jason Reeves. As a bonus, the M-Shop is uniquely student-run.

5. There are 16 closed offices and 15 cubicles in the MU’s Student Office Spaces for student organization use. A few of the organizations that call the Memorial Union home include: VEISHEA, Student Union Board, Government of the Student Body, Dance Marathon, Freshman Council and International Student Council.

“The office space is a great place for students to hold meetings and meet other organization leaders. It’s busy 24/7. It’s an awesome place to meet these leaders because they’re here so frequently,” said Lauren Sandstrom, a Student Activities Center graduate assistant in educational leadership and policy studies. “The MU’s ballrooms and meeting places are the same way, always busy. There are so many events or conferences that it’s always an exciting place.”

6. If all ballrooms in the Memorial Union were filled with chairs, the maximum capacity would be 250. In this format, the MU hosted Bo Burnham and Cyclone Idol hosted by Coolio during the 2010-2011 school year.

7. Forty-four wedding-related events — including rehearsal dinners, receptions and ceremonies — were held in the MU in the fiscal year 2010. For Summer 2011, the Great Hall is already booked for every weekend and only five dates are left for the other ballrooms.

8. The Gold Star hall commemorates 579 Iowa Staters who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country. In September of 1928, the Memorial Union was opened as a memorial to Iowa Staters who died in World War I. Since then, the Gold Star Hall at the north entrance of the MU has been inscribed with names of Iowa Staters lost in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Somalia and the Global War on Terrorism.

9. Open since October 2008, the Multicultural Center in the MU offers lounge space, two private reflection rooms, a browsing library, a computer lab, a kitchenette, printing, a multi-purpose room, two televisions and private lockers. The Multicultural Center is open to all students for use whether for studying, holding a meeting, or to just to stop in between classes.

“The multicultural center is a great place on campus to meet up with friends and study or attend a club meeting. And it’s open to anybody to use,” said George Micalone, director of student activities for the MU.

10. The Memorial Union’s Student Activities Center hosts fun activities for any student to attend. From films, comedy or variety shows to multicultural events such as the Global Gala or open mic nights, there’s something for anyone to enjoy.

“We provide alternative weekend programming through ISU AfterDark, organizing free events such as comedians, Bingo, scavenger hunts, trivia, hypnotists, movies and more,” said Amanda Martin, Student Activities Center graduate assistant in educational leadership and policy studies. “In addition, we offer resources for our nearly 800 student organizations.”