For the Students, By the Students

In light of a recent addition to the Records of the Student Union (Collection #40128), we in University Archives are wondering: How many of you use the Carolina Union every day? Our next question would be: How much do you know about how it came into existence?

The Graham Memorial Student Union Building, 1959.

The Graham Memorial Student Union Building, 1959.

To start off, you might not know that Graham Memorial used to serve our campus as the Student Union. From the time it was constructed in 1932, it was packed with students to the extent that it resembled a sardine can with pillars. While Graham Memorial was a popular center for many different events (including the early years of Jubilee), it was largely inconvenient to students who lived across campus from the elegant building. And if you thought budgetary concern was a recent phenomenon, then you thought wrong. The student director of Graham Memorial consistently sought increased funds to keep the campus entertained. It seemed as if Graham Memorial just could not keep up with student demand for events and activities.

Student Union Board of Directors, Undated.

Student Union Board of Directors, Undated.

Fortunately, a good deal of this changed with the implementation of a professional staff to run the new Carolina Union in the Frank Porter Graham Student Union.  The structure of a professional staff was implemented in 1958 with the first professional director of the Student Union: Howard Henry. The building opened in 1969 and enhanced its management of student activities with a newly refined organization: the Carolina Union Activities Board. Granted, there were several precursors to the CUAB we know and love today. They included the Student Entertainment Committee, the Graham Memorial Activities Board, and the Student Union Activities Board. Because the Union had no official name before 1971 (when it was officially named the “Carolina Union”), these organizations were interchangeable in name and the activities they produced.  None of the three organizations can be limited to a specific date range.

Informational Flier for the Graham Memorial Student Union.

Informational Flier for the Graham Memorial Student Union.

CUAB is an organization by the students of Carolina, for the students of Carolina. This mentality is evident in the Addition of September 2012 to the Student Union Records (Collection #40128).

What do you appreciate about the Carolina Union?

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