Oregon State University

Project Overview

The Memorial Union was built with the assistance of student money during the great depression and with the understanding that those current students would never see it.  It was an investment in the future and a legacy of the Class of 1920 to generations to come.  They knew that if they only focused on themselves and the present, they would never grow.  The current student facility, the Memorial Union was built for a student body of 3,500 and is the smallest student center in the Pac 10 and the oldest on the west coast.

 Photo of MU in the 1920s

Student Experience Center

Nearly three years ago, the Campus Planning Committee approved the location for a proposed Student Experience Center, which will be a community center for students, and student programs and replace much of the student space that will be lost when MU East/Snell Hall is closed.  Student programs such as ASOSU (Officers, Senate, Committees, Legal Aid and Student Task Forces), ISOSU, Diversity Development, Community Service Center, Student Media programs (Barometer, Prism, KBVR TV and FM), Greek Life, Student Leadership and Involvement, MUPC and other student organization program space will be located in the new building.  The new building will also free up space within the Memorial Union, to provide additional meeting and study space for students and student organizations.  There will also be a new event space for larger activities.


The site for the proposed Student Involvement Center is the current pay-parking lot located between the MU and Valley Library.  OSU Transportation and Parking officials will develop new proposals for how to compensate for the loss of parking in this location. The OSU Master Plan already designates the removal of this lot, whether this building is constructed or not, to focus on creating a pedestrian core to the campus.

Outdoor Plaza

The concept includes a new outdoor plaza between the MU and the new building, which will feature a rain-proof structure overhead to enable groups and events use of outdoor space even during inclement weather.  A covered outdoor space was the number one requested building feature for student organizations surveyed two years ago.

Student in Space

Compatible Design

The Campus Master Plan requires new buildings in the core of the campus to be compatible in design and scale with surrounding structures.  Great care will be taken to design a building fitting to the character of the core campus buildings and respectful of all campus traffic patterns and plans.

“Green” Building

The Student Experience Center will be designed to meet or exceed LEED silver certification standards and will be built with sustainability in mind.  Providing a healthy and energy efficient facility is a key project goal.

Why would students pay for this building and not OSU’s general fund?

Beginning in the late 1960’s the State Legislature worked to separate what aspects within an institution would qualify for general fund (tax) allocation and what expenses would be paid for by the system’s students with their student fees.  Through Oregon Revised Statutes, attorney general opinions, and case law, the student incidental fee system has become responsible for all aspects of student fee-funded programs and facilities, including facility construction and maintenance.  The taxpayers are predominately assisting students with the funding of the educational experience, academic facilities and academic support systems only.

This system of funding construction for student buildings is very similar to systems used by surrounding states and across the nation.  Students at WSU are paying $240 per year for the renovation of their student union and another $256 per year for their recreation center.  Students at Boise State will be paying close to that amount for renovation and construction of their union.  Most recently, students at Cal voted in April of 2010 in favor of a referendum to replace their aging student union at a cost $220 million.  Students at the University of Washington have done the same thing for a project of similar scope for the renovation of the Husky Union Building.  Students at the University of Oregon are planning a project in excess of $100 million

OSU Buildings Built or Renovated by Student Dollars:

  • Memorial Union original construction was partially student fee funded
  • Snell Hall/MU East (renovation and construction)
  • OSU Childcare Center
  • MU Phase 1 renovation (1994)
  • MU Phase 2 renovation (1996)
  • Dixon Recreation Center (All three phases of construction)
  • Cultural Center renovations (1999) 
  • Women’s Center renovations (2000)
  • Dixon Outdoor Sports Complex (2010)
  • McAlexander Fieldhouse renovation (2011)



Contact Info

Contact: studentexperiencecenter@oregonstate.edu
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