In 1986, Wilson Commons’ unique architecture was in the spotlight as it was named the second best collegiate student union in the United States by the New York Times.

Since I have enrolled, I have heard a dozen stories about the amount of traffic that comes through the building and how students maximized the use of the facility. It was the place where students go during spare time for food and friends and a place of comfort and relaxation.

It was sad in my last three years here that all those tales were just what they were ? stories. It was rare for me to feel students really united at the Wilson Commons special event. And even then, much of its space still sit gathering dust.

But this year, I have noticed and enjoyed a remarkable change. Aside from the waiting lines in the coffee shop, there are actually people eating, playing board games and catching up with friends in the pit. And for the fearless, some even take naps on the couches in the clock lounge as they wait for their next class.

So ? why the change?

In my mind, three things ? food, freshman housing and programming.

There hasn’t been a lot of praise that has been said about the change in dining services this year, but the better selection, increased variety and consistent freshness really motivates students to grab a bite.

It also helps that the price of Danforth Dining Center is outrageously high, and the Frederick Douglass Dining Center is plagued by long lines.

Freshman housing deserves credit as well. Most freshmen used to dine at Danforth for its convenience for students in Susan B. Anthony Residence Halls and Towers, the typical freshman dorms.

Now that the freshmen live a few steps away from Wilson Commons and the upperclassmen refuse to fork over $10 for a meal, the students tend to gather in the student union more.

Lastly, the increase in programming from the Student Activities Office makes Wilson Commons the place of constant activity ? the way a student union should be.

In the past two months, aside from Meliora Weekend, there have been coffeehouse concerts, career fairs, a Clinique make-up workshop and philanthropy events taking place in the building. And soon, the annual Viennese Ball will transform the facility into an elegant ballroom to cater students in an evening of classy, musical fun.

It is about time that some signs of life have re-appeared in Wilson Commons and students are taking advantage of its facilities. We finally are using our student union like it was planned to be used when it was designed.

Wu can be reached at

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