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A students' history of the HUB

The grand re-opening of the Husky Den in the Husky Union Building (HUB) this month has been accompanied by much fanfare from the folks who currently run the HUB. As the HUB's first major renovation in 25 years, it's a noteworthy occasion.

Ironically, this occasion coincides with a HUB-related anniversary some UW students are not so likely to celebrate: Tomorrow marks the fortieth anniversary of an action taken by the UW Board of Regents that led to the transfer of control of the HUB's business operations from the Associated Students of the University of Washington (ASUW) to the UW administration.

While the operation of the HUB today is ultimately under the administration's control - by way of Student Activities and Union Facilities (SAUF) - students played a central role in both the HUB's creation and the early years of its operation.

In fact, the HUB was originally conceived by students as a building for students. But since the HUB's original grand opening in Oct. 1949, the role of students in its operation has gradually diminished to the point where student groups have often complained of being prohibited, by rental fees and other bureaucratic roadblocks, from access to the HUB's resources.

How control of HUB operations was transferred from students to the administration amounts to a rather intriguing student government soap opera.

What is probably the most significant date in the story occurred 40 years ago tomorrow. On Jan. 26, 1962, the Board of Regents directed University President Charles Odegaard to completely review the ASUW's operations and its relationship with the University, with the intent to completely restructure the ASUW.

This action set in motion a controversial series of events that ultimately led to the regents' formal decision, in April 1962, to deprive the ASUW of its former control over two campus entities UW students had a direct role in creating: the Athletic Department and the HUB.

A brief history of the ASUW, focusing on its role in the creation of the HUB, should put this story in perspective.

First founded in 1900 as the Student Assembly, the ASUW became incorporated under Washington state law as a non-profit organization on March 26, 1906.

During its first three decades, the ASUW, in addition to other prominent activities, lobbied for the construction of several major buildings on campus. Among these were Husky Stadium (completed in Nov. 1920), Hec Edmundson Pavilion (completed in 1927), and the HUB (completed in Oct. 1949).

In addition, the ASUW partially financed these buildings, by means of bonds which the ASUW pledged to pay off with student membership fees and revenue from ASUW-sponsored entertainment events and the student-initiated football and basketball programs.

The idea for a UW student union building was first proposed by student leaders sometime during the ASUW's early years. On March 5, 1919, after several years of student lobbying, the administration finally agreed to commit to construction of a building on campus for students. Suggestions for its design were discussed in student, faculty and alumni committees in the following months, but it was not for another decade that actual plans were drafted.

On Jan. 6, 1927, during a meeting in which the ASUW adopted preliminary plans for the construction of the "Men's Gymnasium and Athletic Pavilion" -- later to be named Hec Edmundson Pavilion -- the ASUW also adopted preliminary plans for the construction of a student union building. After some debate, it was decided that the pavilion would be constructed first, with the union building to follow.

At the time, the ASUW was legally autonomous from the University. Between the 1927 student union and pavilion proposal and the HUB's completion in 1949, the administration showed increasing interest in the affairs of the ASUW. The ASUW's autonomy came to an end in 1932, when a financial crisis brought on by the Great Depression ultimately led the ASUW to ask University President M. Lyle Spencer to assume control over the organization.

During Fall 1942, the ASUW and the Board of Regents made formal plans as to how the money for the HUB's construction was to be raised. They decided that half of the cost would be paid by the ASUW, with the regents matching this amount, dollar for dollar.

Through a combination of student fees, surpluses from athletics, concerts and other activities, and bank loans, the ASUW contributed $725,000 toward the HUB's construction. The regents added $600,000, making a total of $1,325,000 in construction funding.

On Oct. 25, 1949, after nearly a half-century of wishing, hoping, and lobbying, students finally got their hard-earned prize on campus when the HUB officially opened its doors.

Barely more than a decade later, on Jan. 26, 1962, that victory was overshadowed by administrative fiat.

On Jan. 31, 1962, President Odegaard informed the ASUW Board of Control at its weekly meeting about the Regents' directive to restructure the ASUW.

Among the details Odegaard revealed was a report drafted by the Regents that dealt at length with the types of campus business activities - food, games and other student services - "which require supervision of many regular staff employees and the collection and expenditure of large sums of money."

The report argued that students running such operations "tend to have an adverse effect on sound, long-range business management." The report continued: "Hence ... it would seem reasonable to bring these business management activities ... directly under the appropriate administrative officers of the University."

The report also declared that, because the ASUW and the University had grown rapidly in preceding years, "methods of operation and organizational relationships, adequate in the past, now deserve reappraisal."

As part of its proposal to restructure the ASUW, the Board of Regents divided the ASUW's jurisdiction into three parts: Athletics, Business Activities and Student Activities.

The regents essentially argued that an ideal reorganization of the ASUW would relieve the ASUW of the "burden" of Athletics and Business Activities, allowing it to focus more on "substantive ideas" for Student Activities, and less on "procedural matters of business."

In order to determine how the regents' recommendations could best be carried out, Odegaard formed a four-man committee consisting of himself, Assistant-to-the-President Dr. Robert Waldo, former ASUW Finance and Budget Committee Chairman Gordon J. Gose, and then-current Finance and Budget Chairman Charles Miller.

Student reaction to Odegaard's announcement was varied. It ranged from that of BOC member Dan Barr, who later proclaimed, "They took away everything but the hat-racks in the HUB," to that of ASUW President Camden Hall, who agreed with the general direction of the reorganization.

According to a Daily article published the following day, many students on campus objected to the prospect of the University "moving in" and taking over resources the students had controlled for years.

Hall, in contrast, expressed belief that much of the proposal was "long overdue," specifically the part that would remove the athletic department from ASUW control. In Hall's view, the department had in recent years become more of a burden than a benefit to the ASUW.

"When all went well with the [athletic department]," Hall said, "the University was more than glad to take credit and include it as a part of the University Family."

"But when clouds of scandal or defeat remained for prolonged periods over the [department], the University was anxious to disclaim as much as possible, thereby leaving the ASUW holding the bag."

Hall also agreed that the ASUW should be removed from business areas such as food and games. But rather than placing these business functions under University personnel, as the Regents suggested, Hall advocated placing them under the direction of ASUW employees.

Hall's strongest criticism of the regents' plan concerned the lack of student representation on the four-man committee that would put the plan into action.

"Dr. Odegaard can lose a great deal of goodwill among the students," Hall said, "if he presents changes in which the students have had no final creative role."

Odegaard soon appointed a second committee, the Special Committee on the ASUW, to assist him in planning the reorganization of the ASUW. This new committee soon became known colloquially as the "Waldo Committee," after Dr. Waldo, who served as its chairman.

Along with Dr. Waldo, the new committee consisted of three students and two faculty members: ASUW President Hall; student leaders Gary Crocker and Karen Lund; and Profs. Miller and Gose from the previous committee.

On Apr. 13, 1962, the committee submitted a 17-page report to Odegaard, which concluded with the recommendation that both the Athletic Department and the business operations of the HUB be placed under University control.

The report also suggested that a HUB manager be established to handle such business operations as food, reservations, rentals, accounting, games and purchasing. The HUB manager, according to the committee's suggestions, would report to the University president. In addition, the report suggested that all employees then engaged in HUB business activities should become University employees, rather than ASUW employees.

The committee also recommended:

- that an advisory committee on HUB business management, be set up, to consist of seven students, two faculty members and one alumnus, to advise the HUB manager on business matters,

- that the HUB manager "be directed to give priority to the ASUW activities program and individual student use of the HUB," and,

- that ASUW staff advisors should be hired and placed by the University administration.

In one of its key passages, expressing the administration's motives for mandating the reorganization, the report declared that "the present organization [of the ASUW] has resulted in a hypocritical form of student participation in management problems -- hypocritical because of the requirement of student 'approval' of administrative decisions when there are no alternatives to those decisions."

(This passage alluded to the University president's veto power over ASUW decisions, a result of the controversial Article IX of the ASUW Constitution, added in Nov. 1955 after much heated debate on campus. Article IX effectively reduced the ASUW's influence upon the UW administration to an advisory role.)

The crucial passage continued, "The present procedures result in student disenchantment with what should be a meaningful experience. The preoccupation with management problems also has hindered the maximum application of student initiative and talents to other areas of student interest and concern."

The apparent implication was that control over management of campus facilities was a burden to student government, rather than one of its primary benefits.

The administration's designs on the ASUW, as formally expressed in the Waldo Committee's report, were already known and discussed among influential student leaders even before its release. While some student leaders, such as ASUW President Hall, agreed with the proposed changes, others instantly saw their negative implications for the future of the ASUW.

Armin Kachel, a graduate student in urban planning who ran for ASUW president in the Apr. 1962 ASUW elections, commented in an interview published in The Daily on Apr. 11, 1962:

"[The regents'] decision is based on the belief that students are incompetent to handle the business and athletic areas and that by removing them from the control of the BOC students would be free to handle their 'logical' areas of concern, namely activities."

Kachel continued, "I believe that if we, as students, wish to avoid having student government degenerate to the level of sophisticated high school activities, it is necessary to determine the possible legal autonomy of the ASUW as a corporate body."

The regents' proposed reorganization of the ASUW, as realized by the Waldo Committee, took effect on July 1, 1962.

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