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Addition Gives Ewu Students More Room To Expand Minds

It took Eastern Washington University students 12 years of asking, but now they’ve got the student union building they wanted.

The 60,000-square-foot addition to the Pence Union Building opened last week. Already, it is one of the busiest places on the EWU campus.

“It seems like a real college student union,” said senior Andrew Lamb.

“It’s a lot nicer atmosphere. It’s a lot more open and lighter inside,” he said.

About $10 million was spent on the new facility, which features a food court with seating in a central atrium. Skylights help light the eating and lounging areas.

A large bookstore is located on the ground floor. “We finally have a real bookstore,” said student President Josephine Opong.

Writing and computer labs are on the third floor. The university plans to install 150 computer work stations. Meeting and banquet rooms are available on the second floor.

The building adjoins the old PUB, which was built in 1971 and is less than half the size of the new one. The old PUB seemed crowded by comparison, and dark inside with its brick walls.

The two buildings will be used as a single PUB. Remodeling is planned in the old building.

The new building has the same exterior brick, so it appears to match the old building. However, the new building doesn’t have interior brick walls.

Students can choose from a wider variety of food than was available in the old PUB. There’s a salad bar, sandwiches, hamburgers and hot entrees. A taco bar is planned.

“I love it,” said sophomore Kelly No. “The food is a lot better.”

Unlike a growing number of campuses these days, EWU decided not to invite any fast-food chains into the building. Gonzaga University has a Taco Bell Express. Instead, the PUB will offer its own fast-food choices.

The new dining services are capable of serving three times as many students as the old facility, university officials said. About 1,600 students were served lunch each day last week.

Curt Huff, associate vice president for university services, said the building was paid for with bonds backed by student activity fees. But the payments on the bonds will come from revenue off the food service and bookstore sales.

“This has been the talk of the campus since we opened it,” Huff said. “It’s something we wanted to do for our students.”

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