A Short History of the student Unions on the Twin Cities Campus begins with the opening of Alice Shevlin Hall in 1906. Shevlin Hall was meant to provide a place for women student groups to have offices and hold meetings, to provide a place for women students to eat and relax, and enjoy adequate toilet facilities, all of which had been completely lacking on campus or woefully insufficient prior to its construction. The Dean of Women led the charge for the construction of Shevlin Hall, on behalf of, and presumably at the behest of the women students and the women student organizations on the Minneapolis campus. The construction of Shevlin Hall was financed in large part by a donation from the family of Alice Shevlin. Shevlin had been governed in part by the Women's Self-Government Association (and possibly the Women's League) and was administered by the Dean of Women.
Nicholson Hall, Photograph Courtesy of University Archives, University of Minnesota
Following the opening of Shevlin Hall, and in conjunction with the nation-wide student union movement, the men students at the University of Minnesota soon began to agitate for their own clubhouse on campus. In 1908 an organizing committee was formed, and the first Minnesota Union Constitution was drafted. The same year, a campaign was begun to raise funds for a Minnesota Union building, and schematic plans for it were drawn up. The building was never constructed as planned. However, in 1914, the Board of Regents officially recognized the Minnesota Union, ratified their constitution, and granted them use of the building now known as Nicholson Hall. There were a number of faculty members involved with the Minnesota Union from its inception, and their involvement was crucial to the acceptance of the Minnesota Union by the Regents.
Written by Jeremiah L. Mason