Acadia Students’ Union Students’ Centre, Acadia University

Quick Facts

Acadia University 

Four-year, public
Enrollment: 3,548 full-time; 534 part-time
Location: Wolfville, Nova Scotia 

Acadia Students’ Union Students’ Centre 

Year Built: 1949 and 1972 (two complexes)
Size: 65,000 sq. ft.
Floors: Two adjoining complexes, two levels in smaller complex called the “OldSUB,” and six levels in the larger complex called “NewSUB”
Annual Operating Budget: $3 million (Canadian)
Director: Ian Morrison
Student Staff: 95 part-time
Nonstudent Staff: 8 full-time

Acadia Students’ Union Students’ Centre is the oldest student-operated facility in Atlantic Canada. In the 1930s, students began gathering funds to construct what is now called the OldSUB complex, but it was not until the Class of 1949, which consisted of many World War II veterans, that their vision fully came to fruition. The OldSUB opened on November 10, 1949, and at the time Harrison McCain was the chairperson of the Building Committee. After graduating from Acadia, McCain (1927-2004) and his brothers went on to own the largest french fry company in the world, McCain Foods. 

In 1999 (the 50th anniversary of the building) a cornerstone was designated with a time capsule placed behind it. The time capsule will be opened on November 10, 2049, the 100th anniversary of the building. The OldSUB was renovated in 1964, and the NewSUB complex has seen seven renovations since it opened in 1972. In 2004, the complex was named the ASU Students’ Centre when a new front entryway was built. The most recent improvement project occurred in 2017 when the campus bar was renovated and the Beveridge Forum Council Chambers was made physically accessible with a ramp. Preliminary planning has started on a renovation of the facility as part of a capital campaign launched by Acadia University. 

The student-led Acadia Students’ Union operates and manages the Students’ Centre, drawing its authority not from Acadia University but rather from the Province of Nova Scotia. Acadia Students’ Union is a separate and distinct corporation from Acadia University, created by statute by the province legislature on March 22, 1967. Students serve in leadership positions at every level of the organization and contribute to the vibrancy of the facility. 

The Acadia Students’ Union is the only student organization in the region that manages and directly operates a food services program. It is also one of only a handful of student organizations in Canada that manages its own clothing store, selling Acadia-branded merchandise, and the union provides all snack and beverage vending on campus. 

The Students’ Centre provides services such as counseling, residence life offices, mailboxes, a coffee shop, newspaper and radio offices, a food bank, health plan office, and the security department. The union is primarily funded student fees, revenue from operations, and revenue from programs and services offered to the membership. In 2014, gender-neutral washrooms were designated in the building, the first on the entire campus. 

Many consider Axe Bar & Grill the most popular place to gather with its full-service bar, kitchen, and a pub atmosphere. The Axe also added new patio in 2018 with contributions from the Acadia Students’ Union and Acadia alumni. Students meet to study, socialize, have something to eat, or sample a beverage. Wednesday Trivia Night there is popular as is Friday nights for socializing and dancing. The Axe becomes a focal point when major events occur, including Super Bowl Sunday, the Olympics, and U.S. and Canadian elections. 

During exams, the Michener Lounge and the Beveridge Forum becomes extremely popular because they are accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week. During that time ASU provides complimentary snacks
and refreshments. 

The union also operates the longest running craft show in the province, the Acadia Christmas Craft Expo. Held each November since 1974, it attracts up to 7,000 people, necessitating it be moved from the Students’ Centre to the campus hockey arena.

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