Andy Gottesman / The Lantern
More than 16,000 people flocked to the Ohio Union Monday for the opening of the $118 million building. Students, faculty, staff, alumni and visitors gathered for the ribbon-cutting ceremony before the doors opened at noon.
Shortly before noon, a countdown began, punctuated with drumbeats from the Ohio State Marching Band. At zero, the doors opened and fireworks exploded as students pressed through the entrance on the west plaza.
Students Julie Knox, a fourth-year in medical dietetics, and Zack Rubin-McCarry, a fourth-year in political science and strategic communication, were part of the ribbon-cutting ceremony that also included Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee and Tracy Stuck, the director of the Union.
Knox is the president of the Pan-Hellenic Council, and Rubin-McCarry is the president of the Inter-Fraternity Council. Knox said they found out before spring break that they would be official ribbon-cutters.
“Every time I hear about the Union, there’s something new I learn,” Rubin-McCarry said, adding that he looked forward to getting to know the new building.
Gee posed for pictures in the Great Hall, as it quickly filled with visitors.
“Every great house has to have a living room,” he added, “and this is our house, and this is our living room.”
Tracy Stuck, the director of the Union, was perched at a table on the second floor overlooking the Great Hall.
“I’m just staring at people,” she said, adding that words couldn’t describe her excitement.
Rooms were crowded and lines were long.
Lines for free food in the Archie Griffin Ballroom snaked across the 18,000-square-foot space. Red tote bags, 6,000 in all, had been completely given away by 1:30 p.m. Tony the Tiger helped give away Kellogg snacks in the Ohio Stater Traditions room on the second floor, and Brutus Buckeye posed for pictures.
BuckID replacements, normally $20, were free in the new office on the second floor.
Jordan Davis, vice president of Undergraduate Student Government, said she was excited to see all the students in the Union and hoped to continue to see students there throughout the quarter.
She added that she hopes the new Union will get more students motivated to become involved in student organizations and that it will become the central gathering place for students on campus.
A lot of work was done over spring break to prepare for opening day, Kurt Foriska, assistant director of the Union, said. “I swear people were working 24 hours a day,” he joked.
Despite a forecast of rain and cloudy skies and a protest by architecture students, whose neon-colored signs deemed the building an architectural “failure,” Foriska said the day was a success.
He said he hoped students, even those involved in the protest, would come to the Union and “find their niche.”
The festivities will continue throughout April with concerts, lectures and other events. “We just want to get students in the building,” he said.
Many student organizations will have their first meeting in the Union in the coming month, and Foriska said the Union staff will be welcoming them.
He said, “The whole goal is to get students here to see how to use the building.”