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Meaningful Places: The Michigan Union

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Published on Mar 17, 2014

Located in the heart of Central Campus, the Michigan Union is the University of Michigan's most recognizable landmark. Over eighty-five years of history have made their mark here - from JFK's announcement of the Peace Corps to a visit from the Dalai Lama.

The Michigan Union was formed in 1904 and focused on providing a sense of unity for men on campus. In the beginning, the Michigan Union founders needed a home for the organization, and in 1916 construction of the Michigan Union began. Complications due to World War I caused delays in the construction, with The Michigan Union officially opening in 1919.

The Michigan Union initially operated as a club, and by 1914 there were over 4,000 members, which was a considerable portion of the University student body and indicative of the strength of the organization.

To begin with, women were only allowed to enter the Michigan Union through the North entrance and needed a male escort. The Michigan League was constructed in 1929 and opened on North University Avenue, and served as a center for various women's campus activities. In 1956, for the first time women were allowed to enter the Michigan Union without an escort; however it was not until 1968 that women were granted equal access to the entire building.

The Michigan Union is a hub for campus activity and continues to grow in accordance with changing university needs. Student groups, study space, events, and many other student and community needs make their home in this historic building. Whether it is just to grab a quick meal or meet with friends and fellow students, the Union is a quintessential part of the Michigan experience.

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