Indiana Memorial Union
In response to heightened tensions between students on Indiana University's campus in the early twentieth century, IU student John Whittenberger created the Indiana Union student organization as a way to encourage unity between students. Completed in 1932, and having several expansions done since then, the Indiana Memorial Union is one of the largest student union buildings in the world.
Backstory and Context
The history of the Indiana Memorial Union dates back to the early twentieth century when tensions between freshman and sophomores, and between fraternity members and non fraternity affiliated students reached an all time high in 1909. These tensions would become so heated, that they would lead to physical brawls on campus. Then, IU student John Whittenberger, fed up and dismayed with the civil unrest on campus, established the Indiana Union, with the help of Indiana University’s president, William Lowe Bryan and other faculty members.
In the first twenty years since its conception, the Indiana Union was held in the east wing of the Student Building. Membership cost a dollar a year and students could play billiards and live bands would play dances. Women were not allowed to join until the early 1950s. In 1921, the Memorial Fund drive was established in order to raise money for the construction of three new buildings to honor members of the IU community who had served in the military during war time. One of the three buildings constructed was one with a large auditorium, which would become the new home to the Indiana Union student organization when it finished construction in 1932.
The Indiana Memorial Union is significant in the discussion of IU student life because at its center is the Memorial Room, which is home to The Golden Book, a list of the names of IU students who had served in the armed forces since the War of 1812. The motto "This Volume records the names of men and women of Indiana University who have served in the Wars of the Republic and the names of the donors to the Memorial Fund which has provided the three buildings erected in their honor. The Donors pay homage to those who served. The University pays homage to both" (Golden Book of Indiana University Memorial Fund) is inscribed on a plaque beside the book and inscribed on the floor of the Memorial Room as well. The book only recognizes students who fought in the War of 1812 through World War II and it has not been updated. The money from donors listed in the Golden Book have been used to make the building in which the Golden Book lays, Memorial Stadium, and Memorial Hall. This book's significance is Indiana University not only acknowledging, but honoring alumni who have given their lives for the Republic and to recognize their historical role in shaping the campus and the country as a whole.
Rockwood, Dolores. Golden Book of the Indiana University Memorial Fund.[Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University, 1957.