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Fall-ing Into a Routine: A New Campus Normal

Student Spaces, Familiar Faces

This fall has been one to remember. From virtual classes to physical distancing, University of Wisconsin-Madison students have tackled it all. But, our Wisconsin Union team, and in particular our student leaders, have stepped up to the plate to continue to provide our campus community with one-of-a-kind experiences and access to spaces they know, love and need.

Since the spring, our team has worked tirelessly to make sure that we could support our students. We knew students would still need a place to eat, study, and just unwind, so we made it a priority to have our buildings open and safe.

This meant limiting who could enter the Union spaces as well as implementing new dining options, such as delivery and kiosk ordering, to make sure we could continue to serve students in a way that was comfortable for them.

We also kept the Terrace available on a first come first served basis for students, staff members and faculty members and one non-campus guest per campus community member this fall. This semester, more than ever, taking in the view of Lake Mendota and taking time away from the stressors of the world, is needed.

“The Union buildings are where I found my place on campus. They have been a refuge for recreation, study and community,” Wisconsin Union President Lily Miller said. “I am both challenged and supported here, and I think that we offer that for all students. The Union’s versatility is what gives it strength and meaning.”

Union Events We’ve Loved

This versatility has been so important this year. Reimagining traditionally in-person activities, like lectures, music performances, art classes and more, has been no simple task. But each of our 11 student-led Wisconsin Union Directorate (WUD) Committees and team members rose to the challenge and adapted to our new normal so we could provide engaging at-home events for our students.

It has been part of our identity  at the Union to show up for students in innovative ways, and the WUD, the student programming and leadership board for the Union, organizes, promotes and executes some of the best experiences and events you can get outside the classroom. This year is no different.

One of Lily’s favorite events this year? The Madison World Music Festival from the WUD Performing Arts Committee and Wisconsin Union Theater. The Union team transformed this annual event into a virtual musical oasis.

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Madison World Music Festival Performance

“My roommates and I were able to dance to and enjoy global music from the comfort of our homes for two days,” Lily said.

WUD is in the process of revolutionizing what programming can look like and mean for the Union. Virtual events have meant that so much of what we do at the Union has become available to a wider community that might not otherwise be able to experience some parts of what makes the Union special.

“I am proud to say that we are still able to provide the same caliber of student and community programming as we were before the pandemic,” Lily said. “This is a time for creativity and experimentation, and it’s important that we continue to program for the campus and community to encourage people to learn and remain engaged in the important issues in our society today.”

On Oct. 8, the WUD Art Committee hosted a special event featuring the projection of George Floyd’s last words onto Memorial Union. This event was just one example of the Union’s living commitment to racial justice.

From Oct. 26-30, we hosted the first-ever Rise Up Week, which focused on further amplifying and providing education opportunities on many issues, such as racial justice. Rise Up Week was the culmination of WUD’s equality efforts this semester, and they are just getting started.

Ongoing, On-demand Activities

Not able to make one of our events? You can enjoy many of them online, like the Madison World Music Festival, as well as performances from WUD Music and Wisconsin Singers. WUD Music even has custom playlists available on Spotify.

If you’re feeling more literary, take a dive into WUD Publications’ online editions, as well as their first-ever cross-publications summer issue.

How about a break from the screen? The Wisconsin Union dining team released coveted recipes and accompanying how-to videos featuring delicious Union classics like Rath sauce and tot seasoning, Ginger Root sesame chicken and more. If you’re still hungry for more food content, check out WUD Cuisine’s many cooking videos here.

Copycat Rath Sauce and Tot Seasoning video

Get in touch with your creative side! Wheelhouse Studios, UW-Madison’s on-campus art studio, has tutorials on a variety of subjects from artmaking for self-care to paper weaving and zines. And, as always, we have Union-inspired coloring pages! 

Upcoming Events

We will continue to bring you events in the months to come, no matter the circumstances. We will innovate, and we will persevere, because the need to connect, learn and have fun will continue. Also, enduring without end, is our dedication to our incredible Wisconsin Union members, student members, staff, faculty and guests. Your support and the opportunity to be part of your lives mean the world to us. 

We hope you will join us for upcoming Wheelhouse Studios virtual classes this winter and spring as well as other virtual events and activities, such as lectures by thought leaders, live music, theater performances and more. The art studio at our building Memorial Union is also open on a reservation-basis to UW-Madison students, staff and faculty and is free for students. Students, staff and faculty can also rent outdoor equipment from Outdoor UW and bowl, play billiards, play video games and rock climb at Sett Recreation in our building Union South. 

Stay tuned to the Union website as well as Wisconsin Union social media for upcoming events and programming.

All that we do at the Wisconsin Union is made possible by our campus community, Wisconsin Union members and guests, as we do not receive taxpayer dollars. With revenue opportunities limited, donations have become more important than ever. Please consider giving to our Annual Fund. You can also support us through purchases in the Terrace store.

Author: Katherine Kermgard

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