A More Perfect (Student) Union
Student unions are the living rooms of campus life, and the newly renovated Erb Memorial Union (EMU) is a spectacular one.
GREEN IN EVERY SENSE
Sustainability is more than a value at the UO; it infuses everything that happens on our campus. So when the center of the campus community was rebuilt, sustainability was always a top priority. The EMU will be seeking LEED Platinum certification—a designation awarded to sustainably designed architecture—which would make it one of the “greenest” student unions in the country.
What makes it so sustainable? Nearly everything, from the cooling system that uses the building’s cool water to lower the air temperature, to construction utilizing either reclaimed or responsibly sourced wood, to the zero-waste stations (including compost bins) everywhere you look.
The EMU first opened in 1950, and after additions in 1962 and 1973, the building remained essentially the same for four decades, serving as the cultural hub of the UO community. The UO has grown a great deal since then, though, and the need for a new student union became substantial.
The extensive renovation process began in December, 2013, and was largely complete by summer, 2016, as student groups and offices moved into their new, much larger, and more modern home.
Not everything in the EMU is new, however. The oldest parts of the building, from the original construction in 1950, were retained, including the “Fishbowl” of Animal House food-fight fame—it’s now a food court and gathering space. The 1973 expansion was demolished to make more space for student organizations and other resources—80,000 square feet of new space, to be exact.
FOOD IN THE EMU
The UO has great dining all across campus (See Dining on Campus for more on that), and the EMU is no exception. Options here lean toward local and national chains, and there are plenty of common eating areas to meet with friends and share a meal or snack.
The EMU’s chain-restaurant options will be familiar to many visitors: Panda Express, Subway, Starbucks, and Chipotle all have a presence here. They’re complimented by several local and regional options:
Locally sourced beef that’s fresh and never frozen—or turkey or veggie patties, if those are more your speed—are the centerpiece of some seriously good burgers. Or get a milkshake. Or get both.
Not only is the tea great, but Townshend’s started right here at the University of Oregon in 2002. Now they’re right in the heart of campus and we couldn’t be happier.
RED WAGON CREAMERY
The flavors here change with the seasons—because they use fresh, local ingredients to flavor their ice cream—but whatever the weather, the ice cream is always delicious.
FALLING SKY PIZZERIA
This is as local as it gets. Nearly everything is made, baked, and cured in house. Pizzas, pastas, and even house-brewed beer for visitors 21 and over.
STUDENT ACTIVITIES AND ORGANIZATIONS
The EMU is the epicenter of student activity at the UO. The Associated Students of the University of Oregon (ASUO), the UO’s elected student government, is headquartered on the ground floor. In addition to being the student voice in campus governance, the ASUO is responsible for allocating student fees to enrich the UO experience—many of the organizations, programs, and services in the EMU are funded by the ASUO.
UO Club Sports is the largest student organization on campus by active membership, but it’s really a confederation of many different sports. The UO is known for our NCAA Division 1 athletics—like the Oregon Ducks football, basketball, and softball teams, to name a few—but our club sports are formidable as well. Students can try out for teams including soccer, ice hockey, rugby, and ultimate (Frisbee, that is). Their rival teams aren’t other UO students, though. Club sports travel around the country competing against other universities in both regular season and championship play.
Two programs of specific note to visitors are the Craft Center and the UO Outdoor Program, because both are open to nonstudents and students alike. The Craft Center is not part of any academic program; it’s a space for students and faculty, staff, and community members to improve their artistic skills or learn new ones. The Outdoor Program helps the UO and Eugene communities get out of the city and into the amazing natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest, all at low or no cost to participants. Most of the trips are even planned by UO students!
A list of all the activities in the EMU can fill an entire website; if you want to learn more, visit emu.uoregon.edu/involvement