Kayla Byler / Lantern photographer
The Ohio Union received a lot of attention last week for its first birthday. More than 1,000 people attended throughout the day to take part in the festivities to celebrate the event. So, it does not appear my opinion that the Union is showing its age and it’s time to build a new one will gain much traction.
In a way, it was nice to see students come together to celebrate a building that hosted about 17,500 events in its inaugural year. But some of the affection directed to the Union seemed a bit strange, primarily the part in which people gathered around the building and embraced it in the world’s largest group hug.
I have not attended many birthday parties for buildings, so perhaps the hug was standard and I simply don’t know it. But the hug gave the appearance that the university was looking for approval and justification for its colossal $118 million investment. Having students show so much affection for a building that they were willing to hug it was certainly sufficient.
The most humorous part about it, however, was not the hug itself, but the explanation given by Union staff worker Matt Couch on how exactly one should hug a building. He explained that the hug should be “platonic,” that it should be given as though a person was hugging a “very good friend.”
I have always been curious about how to properly hug a building, but it makes sense that it should be platonic. That the hug should be similar to that of a good friend presumably means there should be no inappropriate squeezing, kissing or dry humping.
The question lingers as to how much satisfaction a person gets from hugging a building. It is not as though the building hugs back or that someone could even wrap his or her arms around the entire structure, being as the building is 318,000 square feet and the average wingspan is slightly less.
While the campus building-hugging merely attracted my wonderment and curiosity, it surely affected some people much more negatively. Last year, a group of students, mostly from the school of architecture, stood outside the Ohio Union on the day of its grand opening to protest the design.
They argued that the Union’s architecture was not “progressive” enough and that it was too old-fashioned. I rebutted their claims in a column in which I defended the Union’s design and criticized Knowlton Hall, the architecture building, for being ugly and out of place.
Responses to the column, both online and through e-mail, were heated and all were negative. So if a newspaper column, which simply defended the Union’s appearance and gave honest criticism about another building on campus, could cause so much disdain from certain people, then I can only imagine how upset they became when they saw a group of students hugging it.
Then again, maybe these architecture students were unaware of such events. Perhaps they heard about pro-union protesters gathering last week at the Statehouse and sprung into action to oppose them.