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Merrimack College Refinishes 71-year-old Student Union

Amelia Groothuis and Maggie Silvestri

NORTH ANDOVER- As seniors get ready to walk across the stage at graduation, they will also get the chance to walk inside a brand new student union.

Merrimack College is refinishing and reopening the Student Union Located in the basement of the Collegiate Church of Christ the Teacher. Finished in 1951, the original student union at Merrimack College was well-loved and used by the Merrimack and North Andover community. After years passed, this union became specific to just the Merrimack College community, becoming an important piece of the school.

Seven decades ago, this student union was used as a performing arts center hosting “Onstager” events and bands like Aerosmith and Boston. It was one of the first student centers on campus and was heavily utilized. Although this space was well loved, due to the advances at the college, it had been left untouched and was not up to date. This space has undergone many renovations and will be used by the school once again.

Christopher E. Hopey Ph.D., President of Merrimack College, said the reason behind the renovations was “restoring the mission in a contemporary way, with both religious and social components.” He said that this space would be used by a large portion of the Merrimack community as it will “be giving our students who are under 21 a late night social area… I have only heard good vibes around it.”

In this student union, there will be three lanes of bowling alleys, pool tables, golf simulators, and a brand new dining option named Monica’s Kitchen. There will also be lounge areas inside for students to do work, hang out with friends or be more active. The new dining area is meant to emulate a cafe-like space with high-end dining options, similar to Panera Bread. Outside, there will be heated spaces and a trellis for students. The area was created with the intention of being used 10 months out of the year.

The College expects the 15 million-dollar project to be an amazing addition to the campus’s life and will bring students to a new area, in front of the church. With so much land in that campus area, there are endless possibilities for advancements in this space.

President Hopey said that in addition to this student union, new student housing is being built in that same area and will be announced in the spring of 2023. This will also drive students to be in the area, and most importantly have a space close to their housing for food and relaxation. The

new housing option will help the growth of Merrimack continue while giving students a housing option with a large community feel.

“I think it will benefit campus not only for students but for students thinking of coming to Merrimack, it’s such a great attraction and I think it will be a good hang-out spot for friends and meeting new people,” senior Caroline Robinson said. ‘‘My friends and I have been talking about it a lot since we are seniors we are looking forward to something new on campus!”

This student union will bring Merrimack College many new amenities and the new bowling alleys will provide a home for a new Division 1 sports team. Women’s bowling will now be an addition to the athletics program and will practice at the student union. President Hopey is excited about the opportunity to win a potential bowling “state championship.”

The student union is planned to open on November 3rd, 2022 for the general public and students. On November 4th, 2022 there will be a celebration for the 75th anniversary of Merrimack College. An award ceremony will also be held during the festivities’ opening week, including a St. Augustine Medal presentation. This award will be given to a faculty member who embodies the qualities of the college’s mission.

All involved hope the new student union will be an excellent addition to Merrimack College and bring the community together even more than it already is. School officials hope students take full advantage of the refinished space, starting on November 3rd.

Photographed is the Collegiate Church of Christ the Teacher undergoing construction, as the final work on the new student union is being done.

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