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While We Were Closed: How the Union Continued Supporting the Campus Community

Though our doors to Memorial Union and Union South were closed to ‘business as usual’ operations in March, the Wisconsin Union team continued to support our community in the midst of these unprecedented times. 

In keeping with our history, Union South continued to support voting efforts during the pandemic, serving as a polling location for the April and August primaries. On April 7, more than 700 ballots were processed, 441 people voted in-person, and 20 voter IDS were issued by our Wiscard Office team at Union South. On each election day, our team members helped make voting possible through more than just providing space. Roles filled by Union team members included setting up spaces, welcoming guests and providing wayfinding assistance. This summer, Union South continued to serve as the center for Wiscard services multiple days per week, helping campus community members with campus IDs, voter IDs, and passport and background check photos. 

In order to facilitate a physically-distanced work space, Wisconsin Elections Commission staff make temporary office use of Union South’s spacious Varsity Hall at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on June 2, 2020. (Photo by Jeff Miller / UW-Madison)

The Union also recently supported elections activities by providing the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) with temporary space for Wisconsin candidates for state and federal offices to file nomination papers. WEC arranged for the temporary space in Union South due to the agency’s downtown Madison office being too small to safely accommodate the number of individuals filing paperwork.

Our team members also stepped up to provide space to help address the need for blood and platelet donations by offering spaces and space support services for American Red Cross-hosted blood drives. While not the first time we have helped the American Red Cross-provide blood drives, the circumstances of closed buildings and new health and safety protocols, such as physical distancing at its building, presented new challenges our team addressed quickly to help make these donation drives possible. 

The American Red Cross hosts a blood drive in the lobby of Union South at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on June 2, 2020. (Photo by Jeff Miller / UW-Madison)

Second Harvest Foodbank, southwestern Wisconsin’s largest food bank, has provided pre-packaged food box pickups at Union South for anyone in need, with the goal of making sure everyone in southwestern Wisconsin has enough of the right kinds of food to live a happy and healthy life. For more information about food box pickups click here.

A member of the campus community collects food staples and produce during a weekly distribution for The Open Seat UW Student Food Pantry held outside Union South at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on June 2, 2020. The food pantry is coordinated by Associated Students of Madison in partnership with the Second Harvest Foodbank. (Photo by Jeff Miller / UW-Madison)

The Wisconsin Union has also provided pick-up dining options, called Meals To-Go, throughout the spring and summer from Memorial Union and Union South seven days a week. From der Rathskeller to Ginger Root, our dining team has curated a variety of options from the restaurants, markets and cafes we all love. Click here to explore our available dining options.

Lead cook Jack Tredinnick delivers a carryout food order to customer via a pick up window at The Sett in Union South at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on June 2, 2020. (Photo by Jeff Miller / UW-Madison)

And of course, on June 22, we reopened the Memorial Union Terrace as a physically distanced food and beverage oasis, Madison’s largest outdoor restaurant. We know how important it is to take some time to relax right now, and we hope you have joined us at Madison’s largest outdoor restaurant this summer. If not, don’t worry, you can learn more about making a reservation and our new safety protocols here.

The Wisconsin Union has been making experiences for a lifetime for over a century, thanks to your support through giving and patronage. (Did you know we receive no tax dollars?) Building access may be limited for the moment, but the online store is available 24-7. Check out all the great merchandise available to you and, when you’re able, return to visit us in person. In the meantime, we’ll be busy preparing for the return of our students and eventually for your return too!

Author: Katherine Kermgard

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