By Echo News Staff
The old Student Union faces an emptiness and an uncertain future.
Ron Sutherland, vice president for business administration, said there's no definitive plan for the deserted Union. "We've just began talking about options and exploring ways it might be used," he said.
As of now, the old union is not registered as a historical building and belongs to the university, which means Taylor administration possesses the power to have it torn down or renovated.
Mark Dollase, Indiana Landmarks vice president of preservation services, said his organization received a tip from a Taylor source several years ago, saying that a master plan draft showed the dome demolished. Dollase informed President Eugene Habecker that Indiana Landmarks was considering adding the dome to their "10 Most Endangered Hoosier Landmarks" list and Habecker replied that the university would reconsider the dome's destruction. Indiana Landmarks dropped the issue and did not add the dome to their list. However, two weeks ago, the source alerted Dollase's office again, worried that administration would demolish the building.
"I've heard some rumors it's going to get torn down and I really hope that's not true because no other college I know of has a UFO-shaped building and that's awesome," said junior Marshall Oppel.
If the dome was added to the endangered landmarks list, Taylor would still be under no legal obligation to keep it standing. Indiana Landmarks is just an advocacy group focused on preserving Indiana architectural history.
According to Sutherland, the old Union needs updates to remain functional. Long-term use will require substantial funding and replacement of major components of the building, such as its supportive wooden beams and single-paned windows. The university has yet to determine if this kind of investment best suits Taylor's needs.
"It has a lot of memories for alumni," Sutherland said, adding that this history will be considered in any decision.
Among other ideas, Sutherland mentioned the possibility of the old Union being used as a space for alumni and parent relations to hold gatherings or as a storage unit for different departments.
While administration determines the fate of the old Union, students have their own ideas. Some students expect a concert hall, offices or a more intimate event area to replace the current interior. But some students, like junior Emily Maunus, are crossing their fingers for a roller rink.
Junior Jayne Reinhiller is advocating for the Union to be transformed into a museum, showcasing Taylor's own history.
"Most of us don't know more about Taylor's history than there was this guy named Samuel Morris, who came and then died of consumption because Indiana has miserable weather," Reinhiller said.
Sutherland said the building is likely to last another 20 years before needing to be remodeled, so its future purpose will likely be determined down the road and influenced by Taylor's new president, who likely used the Union during his time at Taylor.
Reporting by Annabelle Blair, Cassidy Grom and Becca Robb