WIU Students Love the New and Improved Union

Call me weird, but I was excited for school to start back up as that was our first chance to see the completed Union renovations; it must be my love for interior design. The Union had been under construction for quite some time, but the wait was well worth it.

When I was five years old, my mom was a student at WIU. I remember visiting the Union with her and it looked almost the same then as it did before the revamp; obviously the Union was in serious need of a makeover. It got just that! The old, dark and outdated Union is now modern, bright and spiffy. Haley Calvert, a junior, supply chain management major explained how much she appreciates the revamp. “I really like the changes; it was much needed. It’s now more spacious and more practical for us bustling students,” said Calvert.

“The Union has been serving the WIU community for 50 years and it was time to improve its systems and start to give it a more modern and open feel,” said Ann Comerford, Director of the University Union.

The project was $7 million. Comerford explained that the budget for the project was $10 million, but with very good bids, they were able to keep the project under the budget. The renovations consist of the food court, Murray Street Café, Lamoine Room, and the northwest entrance, including the patio and ramp access to the building. New floors, ceilings, lighting, furniture, windows and technology were installed in the spaces. They also improved the function of the building ductwork and a new chiller system.

“I appreciate the light. The space is so much more open and welcoming to the WIU community,” said Comerford.

For more on the Union renovations visit http://www.wiu.edu/vpas/fm/unionremodel.php.

Burger King, Sbarro, and Einstein Bros Bagels are now all open in the food court. Also, Colonel Rock’s BISTRO, located in the Lamoine Room, is now open; it was shut down last year during the construction. Before the shutdown, it was one of my favorite places to eat on campus, so I could not wait for it to reopen. I tried it out for the first time last week! Instead of ordering off of a menu, diners can enjoy a buffet in the renovated bistro. The buffet cost me $10.55 including tax and a drink. They accept our WIU meal plan, Rocky Dollars (a debit-like account that is accessed using our WIU ID card), debit cards, credit cards and of course, cash. Last week, I enjoyed the lasagna with meat sauce, a breadstick, bowtie spinach pasta and a salad. It definitely filled me up. I can’t wait to go again.

Donna Ford, a head cook at Colonel Rock’s BISTRO, explained how it’s nice for students to be able to experience something that is similar to a home cooked meal. “We do a four week cycle. Every day we have a vegetarian entrée and a regular entrée, soup and salad. Every day our soup is different and we are working on getting desserts in the future. Almost everything is made from scratch,” said Ford.

Whenever you are back on campus, I encourage you check out the Union revamp and try out the bistro. You can look at their menu at http://student.services.wiu.edu/menu/ColonelRock.htm.

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