Digital History at Ursinus

The Union

Dublin Core


The Union


I discovered that the Ursinus Student Union was becoming a huge success faster than anyone expected it to when a secretary in the Treasurer's office remarked that for some reason so many checks were being chased by students that morning of Monday, February 19 that the supply of cash would soon have to be replenished. The Student Union had only opened its doors an hour before, so the reader knows where most of the money was being spent. Then I walked over to the building to see how it looked with most of the furniture installed and quickly found myself engulfed in a crowd of happy students, a crowd larger than I had anticipated.

A Great Change
Great numbers of people from all segments of the campus community have continued to use the building steadily ever since. In only a week this steady use has changed the atmosphere of the school to an astonish extent. One need only have gone to the Union Coffee House on Saturday night to sense the change. It is difficult to describe in material terms precisely what the change was, but one can easily sense a new spirit, a new reinforcement of the bonds of community which I suppose only the presence of a student union on a campus where there was none before can give. I had expected the change in spirit to occur over a few months, not in one week.

Many recent graduates attended Saturday's Coffee House to get a look at the new building. All of them liked the building of course, I expected that; but I was surprised to see a wistful look of nostalgia on most of their faces. They looked as though--just for a moment--they wanted to be college students again. Now I found this phenomenon shocking to say the least. When they were the self-respecting college students of the late sixties these same graduates could do or say anything without blushing--except be caught in a nostalgic mood. Being nostalgic would bring a blush, for that was grossly sentimental and, indeed, irrelevant. And at all costs, a student of the late sixties should not want to be irrelevant. But lo and behold, there at the Coffee house were all these students of the sixties being unblushingly irrelevant. My illusions about these hardened elders were shattered. And alas, some of their illusions probably were shattered as well. So it goes. . .

Only a Week?
So the new Union has been a smashing success, already. One wonders how greatly it will affect the campus in the future when so much has been accomplished in only one week. Given their start, Dr. Wessel and the Board of Governors may wind up performing miracles before the year is out.

Yet the main miracle is already here. Who could have imagined a few years ago that the Union would be a reality today? The idea had been nursed along for some time, and I gather that for a while it was faltering. But the Ursinus College Student Union is here . . . now. And it took a special kind of leadership to bring a union here, now, when so many other schools have stopped growing.


Chuck Chambers


Mar. 1, 1973




Chuck Chambers, “The Union,” Digital History at Ursinus, accessed September 21, 2020,