The beloved Memorial Union Terrace with its iconic chairs will close early this summer, leaving students disheartened.
Moving from its first to second phase, the Memorial Union Reinvestment project will focus on exterior changes, like reviving Alumni Park and “overhauling” the Terrace, causing it to close from the beginning of September until summer 2016, Marketing & Communications Coordinator for the Memorial Union Reinvestment Anna Johnson said.
She added that while small improvements are constantly being made, every 20 or 30 years the Terrace requires big changes to ensure accessibility to the community space.
“A big mission of the Union is to make it everyone’s living room, make it available to everyone, ” Johnson said. “Right now, the way that the Terrace is, not everyone can enjoy it as easily as they should be able to.”
Senior Ana Beckman said the construction to campus’ most known social outlet is not necessary and that she likes the Terrace the way it is.
“I think it would be a bummer, ” Beckman said. “To close it early would not allow people who haven’t been here over the summer to get the chance to come down and see the people they haven’t seen in a while.”
The current junior class has never seen Memorial Union not under construction. Tessa Lewis, a member of this class, said losing the Terrace for most of her senior year would be devastating.
“I would not like it at all. I’ve hung out at the Terrace every summer since I could walk, ” Lewis said. “It wouldn’t be the Union without the Terrace.”
On the other hand, UW-Madison alumnus Jeff Smoller said the proposed cosmetic changes are not enough to solve the bigger cultural problem of accessibility to the terrace.
“It’s not a construction issue, it’s a cultural issue between the campus and the city, ” Smoller said. “Somehow the Madison campus needs to open itself up to the community, and the Terrace is just one part of it.”
Johnson said while she empathizes with students’ concerns, she believes the closure is justified because of the positive change it will bring to campus.
“I understand that people get upset. I love the Terrace, I’m a Badger myself, but looking at the bigger picture it’s just going to be closed a little early this fall and it will open up next summer, ” Johnson said, “but with that we’re going to get an amazing Terrace for the next few decades.”
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