In the heart of the University of New Brunswick’s Fredericton campus, the Student Union Building (SUB) stands as a testament to the spirit of students who dared to dream.
In the early 1960s, when the idea of a new building was still in its infancy, UNB students were ignited by a shared aspiration. They envisioned a space that would transcend mere bricks and mortar, a place that would resonate with the voices of generations yet to come.
The journey toward the SUB was not a smooth one. In 1963, students embarked on a groundbreaking initiative, committing themselves to fund the project through a voluntary $10 fee added to their annual student union fees. However, some faculty members, administrators, and alumni questioned the necessity of such a structure. Why divert funds from academic pursuits to construct what they saw as a distraction?
But students pressed on, determined. The SUB was finished in 1968, placed on the hill overlooking the campus—a decision that would prove justified as the building became an integral part of student life.
Within the walls of the SUB, a vibrant tapestry of student life unfolds. The Campus Radio Station, CHSR 97.9FM, broadcasts the heartbeat of the campus through music, news, and student content. The Brunswickan, the campus newspaper, stands as a vigilant chronicler of events, issues, and student perspectives. Independent stores and shops offer a diverse array of retail spaces, adding to the eclectic mix of services within the SUB.
Amidst all this activity, the Cellar Pub emerged in 1994 as a social nucleus. Its approval as a campus bar marked a significant milestone, providing students with a unique space to unwind and create enduring memories.
Step into the dimly lit corners of the Cellar Pub, and you step into a living time capsule of UNB’s history. In its early days, the Cellar wasn’t just a watering hole; it was a haven where students celebrated victories, navigated academic challenges, and formed lasting connections.
The Cellar was witness to legendary trivia showdowns that tested the wit of students, forging alliances and rivalries alike. The stage hosted the magic of live music and jam sessions, becoming a canvas for local talent and visiting troubadours. Pub crawls, themed and rowdy, embarked from the Cellar, setting the stage for nights of revelry.
However, the SUB’s journey was not without its share of controversies.
First, the Student Union faced financial challenges in the early 1970s, ultimately declaring bankruptcy. In an effort to salvage the situation, the SUB was sold to the university for just one dollar. In return, the university granted a 99-year lease and a guarantee of student control over the building, ensuring that the heartbeat of the SUB would continue to resonate with the students it was meant to serve.
The 1988 stabbing incident, a grim episode in its history, highlighted safety concerns and the need for increased security. Indoor smoking in the early 2000s sparked a campus-wide ban due to health concerns, revealing the challenges of balancing individual freedoms with communal well-being.
The Cellar Pub, while a beloved institution, faced its own set of controversies. In 2010, The Cellar’s promotions stirred a protest due to sexist content, leading the Pub’s manager to resign.
Financial strains, exemplified by the 2015 revelation of over $1.1 million in debt, showcased the SUB’s struggles to balance its books.
In 2018, a ban on a professor sparked debates on free speech and open dialogue within the SUB. The “colonial”-themed pub night added layers of complexity, emphasizing the importance of cultural sensitivity and understanding in campus events.
As the SUB stands today, it is more than a physical structure; it is a living legacy. It echoes with the laughter, debates, and footsteps of countless students who have walked its halls.