Volume 81 | Issue 4
July 2013

 Viking Union, Western Washington University


In the 1950s, the Associated Students of Bellingham Normal School discussed the need for a student union. This was before the institution gained university status and became known as Western Washington University.

In 1957, a student fee was added to raise funds for the building, and the union opened in 1959. Later that same year, an addition was made to the building, and a major renovation occurred in 2000.

“Our $22.4 million renovation provided 20,000 additional square feet, earthquake mitigation, heating and air conditioning upgrades, new digital light fixtures, a mediated classroom, a new Outdoor Center, increased multipurpose space, new radio studios, and upgraded meeting rooms, offices, and lounges,” said Director Jim Schuster.

Today, the Viking Union, named after the university mascot, houses the student activities department and the associated students.

Unique Features

A unique feature of the Viking Union is the view it provides of Bellingham Bay, the city of Bellingham, and the Canadian Coastal Mountains.

“At night, you can see the lighted ski runs in Vancouver, B.C.,” Schuster said.

Additionally, he considers the union the “best cleaned and maintained facility on campus.”

The building also boasts a solar energy demonstration module on its roof.

Students’ Role

The associated students have a direct connection to the union director, with the council acting as an advisor to this position.

Also, student employees help run the union, working in various capacities from building managers to set-up and sound crews to information desk staff.

Students are often found in the VU Market or Underground Coffeehouse, which offers a cozy lounge with chair and couches ideal for studying, hanging out, or napping.

Notable programming has included hosting a reception for an NCAA tournament and multiple annual events, including a Cinco de Mayo celebration, a luau, and Martin Luther King Jr. dinner.