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History of the Student Union

The Boise State University Student Union is a multimillion-dollar facility that provides a wide range of services and programs to meet and anticipate the needs of our diverse student body, faculty, staff, and community members.


  • 1930s – Dr. Eugene and Lois Chaffee open their nearby residence for social gatherings, serving as the first gathering place for students at Boise Junior College, originally located at St. Margaret’s School.
  • 1941 – Boise Junior College relocates to the present-day campus location of Boise State University, where a room in the Administration Building serves as the first Student Union for students attending classes on today’s campus.
  • 1942 – The first intentional Student Union building is constructed on campus, now the Communications Building. Lovingly known as “The Corral, a place to round up Broncos,” the Student Union becomes the venue for everything from civic and social events, not to mention relaxing at the soda fountain.
  • 1950s – The Student Union is expanded and the first permanent director is hired to oversee operations. Dances and weekly club meetings are held on a regular basis, and the first residence halls are constructed, placing greater emphasis on the need for Student Union services and programs.
  • 1965 – Boise State Junior College becomes a four-year institution, resulting in record-breaking enrollment numbers and an even greater demand on the Student Union.
  • 1967 – Construction is completed on a new Student Union facility, the site of today’s contemporary Student Union! The SUB features a game room with a bowling alley, offices and meeting rooms, and even a barbershop.
  • 1970s – The SUB receives a renovation in the early seventies, enlarging portions of the south side of the facility. In 1974, the college becomes Boise State University, drawing internationally-recognized speakers to campus and the Student Union.
  • 1980s – 1990s – Enrollment numbers rise for women and underrepresented minorities, prompting many Unions, like Boise State’s, to establish women’s and cultural centers.  New technologies require modifications, prompting services like the Cyber Café, laptop checkouts and wireless Internet in the SUB.
  • 2009 – The Student Union undergoes a major $30,000,000 remodel and expansion to meet ever changing student needs.
  • 2013 – The Student Union undergoes dining area and information desk remodel. Added features include multiple flat panel tv screens, new flooring, an entryway focal point and variety of seating options. The area is lined in wood and has a glass wall facing the Info Desk.  The color schemes and height variety of furniture adds dimension and gives the room a more spacious feel.
  • 2017 – The Student Union’s west main entrance and transit center are energized with the addition of a brand new Starbucks and wider hallway to support movement of students and guests within the facility. The Student Union leads campus-wide event services and coordination through University Event Services, a one-stop-shop for campus events.

Role of the College Union

The college union advances a sense of community, unifying the institution by embracing the diversity of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and guests. We bolster the educational mission of the institution and the development of students as lifelong learners by delivering an array of cultural, educational, social, and recreational programs, services, and facilities.

By any form or name, we serve as the heart of the campus community and create a welcoming environment by:

  • Operating as a student-centered organization that engages in shared decision making and holistic development through employment and involvement.
  • Advocating for inclusivity and equity, fostering respect, and affirming the identities of all individuals.
  • Educating students in leadership and social responsibility and offering firsthand experiences in global citizenship.
  • Providing gathering spaces to encourage formal and informal community interactions that build meaningful relationships.

Traditionally considered the living room, the college union enhances the student experience and cultivates an enduring connection to the institution.

The Role of the College Union Statement, updated in 2018, originates from the Association of College Unions International (ACUI) and is based upon the Role of the College Union statement, 1956. As one of the oldest higher education associations, ACUI dates back to 1914 when it was founded in the Midwestern United States by six students and one faculty advisor who were interested in learning how other universities were managing college union organizations. In 2018, Boise State University was recognized for 50+ years of membership in ACUI.