How Far We’ve Come: The Year in Photos
It’s hard to believe that just a little over a year ago, things looked completely different here at the Wisconsin Union. The halls of our buildings stood empty, missing the usual chatter of friends catching up over burgers from der Rathskeller in Memorial Union, or students fueling their late-night study sessions with large cups of coffee from Prairie Fire in Union South. We’re thrilled that this year, our doors were open again to Wisconsin Union members and guests, filling our once-quiet buildings with laughter, smiles and hundreds of in-person events planned by the student leaders of our programming board the Wisconsin Union Directorate (WUD).
As the academic year draws to a close (Where did the time go?), we wanted to take a stroll down memory lane and reminisce on some of the highlights from the past eight months. Thank you for joining all of us at the Wisconsin Union as we returned to our beloved traditions.
None of our programming could happen without the hard work of our dedicated WUD student leaders. Our 2021-22 WUD directors, associate directors and officers started the year out strong at a retreat on Aug. 31, 2021. The connections made at this retreat started something great, as these incredible leaders went on to plan a year of amazing events.
We kicked off the year with football season, in all of its red and white glory. The return of football games to Camp Randall meant the return of one of our favorite Wisconsin Union traditions: Badger Bash, gameday’s best tailgate.
We hosted Badger Bash festivities before every home game, including the Homecoming game against Iowa on Oct. 30, 2021. (We might be biased, but we strongly believe that the school spirit roused up during Badger Bash ultimately contributed to the 27-7 Badgers victory over the Hawkeyes.)
Wisconsin Union Theater Concert Series
After the first-ever all-virtual Wisconsin Union Theater season during 2020-21, we were thrilled to welcome audiences back into our performance spaces this year for the 102nd annual Concert Series, our classical music series. Gifted performers and enthralled audience members gathered in Shannon Hall and the Play Circle in Memorial Union as well as the Mead Witter Foundation Concert Hall at the Hamel Music Center for select events to appreciate the performing arts.
The Concert Series kicked off with a performance by chamber orchestra Sphinx Virtuosi on Sept. 30. The rest of the lineup featured renowned artists such as violinist Gil Shaham, Third Coast Percussion + Movement Art Is, the Brentano String Quartet, trumpet soloist Pacho Flores and, most recently, legendary soprano Renée Fleming.
WUD Distinguished Lecture Series (DLS)
Student leaders in the WUD DLS Committee brought many inspiring speakers to campus, including UW-Madison alum and cofounder of The Onion, Scott Dikkers; author and scholar Dr. Reuben Jonathan Miller; award-winning leader in the Native American movement Lakota Harden; activist for LGBTQ+ rights and government transparency Chelsea Manning; and journalist, author and activist Helen Zia. During their talks, these influential leaders highlighted their professional and personal experiences, as well as the lessons they’ve learned along the way.
Wisconsin Union fun doesn’t stop when winter hits. In fact, our programming gets even cooler (pun intended). The famed Lady Liberty returned to frozen Lake Mendota during the Union’s very own Winter Carnival, which took place Feb. 7-12. The weeklong winter celebration featured events, such as Flannel Day and $1 cheese curds from der Rath; winter-themed crafts, such as frozen luminaries and kite-making; and Rail Jam, the Union’s annual freestyle snowboarding and skiing competition on the Terrace. Despite the frigid temperatures, Winter Carnival attendees managed to stay warm by bundling up and indulging in copious amounts of hot cocoa.
This year, Outdoor UW programming returned in full force. In addition to programming Winter Carnival, students in the six Wisconsin Hoofers clubs developed a wide variety of events for every kind of adventurer. The 57th Annual Hoofer Ski and Snowboard Resale took place on Dec. 4, 2021, and achieved record-breaking sales. Another highlight was the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) First Responder Course in January, a multi-day certification course during which participants learned the ins and outs of wilderness first aid in both a classroom and outdoor setting.
Wisconsin Union members and guests got their creative juices flowing this year in art classes in a variety of mediums at Wheelhouse Studios, the open art studio in the lower level of Memorial Union. Artists sipped on wine while painting beautiful scenic views during Wine and Canvas courses; created and donated hand-thrown bowls to support a Habitat for Humanity fundraiser; learned the techniques of shibori dyeing; and more!
Black Arts Matter Festival
UW-Madison alum and artist Shasparay and the Wisconsin Union Theater hosted the third annual Black Arts Matter Festival in March, a four-day celebration of Black artistry. More than 30 artists participated in the Poetry Slam, beautifully sharing their stories and voices through this powerful form of art activism.
These events represent only a fraction of the more than 1,000 events that WUD student leaders and staff planned and executed throughout the year. That means there’s never a shortage of things to do at the Wisconsin Union! Check out the Union event calendar to see what’s coming up next.
Plus, Wisconsin Union members enjoy discounted prices on many of these events, such as special pricing on Theater tickets, Wheelhouse Studios classes, Outdoor UW equipment rentals and more. Become a member today to take full advantage of all of the wonderful opportunities that the Wisconsin Union has to offer.