DUC name changed to Downing Student Union

The name of the Downing University Center has been changed to Dero Downing Student Union.

Elliott Pratt

The Downing University Center is getting a new name to go with its new look.

The building that has been referred to as DUC for more than 40 years  has a new name – Dero Downing Student Union.

Approving the resolution presented to the administrative council for DUC to have its name changed to Downing Student Union as a part of the renovation process was a quick and easy decision, said Howard Bailey, vice president for Student Affairs.

“It’s about as official as it’s going to get,” Bailey said. “We were at the administrative council table one day and someone said ‘Any body have any issues with the name change? No? Okay, next topic.’”

The original proposal came in fall 2011, and stated the building serves the students, whether it be to socialize, study or shop, and that the name change would be more appropriate for the building’s purpose.

On Nov. 8, 2011, the Student Government Association voted down a resolution to change DUC’s name to Downing Student Union. The vote was 19-8, with one senator abstaining.

SGA President Keyana Boka said the name change was needed to separate the building, which is for the students, from administrative buildings.

“A university center implies that it is an administrative building, and the purpose for the building is for the students,” Boka said. “And because of the massive renovation, they decided to rebrand it to the Downing Student Union.”

Boka, who was an SGA senator in 2011, was the author of the resolution that was voted down at the time.

The building will be referred to as the Downing Student Union in all university publications this fall.

Bailey said the decision to change the name was made in March when the contractor’s deadline to order the lettering for the building had come.

“We’ve ordered the stone work that will go up on the building upon its completion with a new name,” Bailey said. “The contractor said the time had come where in order to have the molding made for the concrete structure, it was time for them to order it.”

Student unions are common among many benchmark universities, rather than university centers.

Bailey said the name change helps WKU move forward as a leading American university.

“We, as WKU, have made several decisions in the last ten years to put us into what our slogan is as a leading American institution,” Bailey said. “Leading institutions across the country have student union buildings.”

DUC has been a landmark title at WKU for many generations. Bailey said it could take that long for the nickname to fade away.

“Will it take a few generations of college students before people will stop saying DUC? Yeah, it will,” Bailey said. “But someone will come back years from now to Homecoming and tell a student to meet up at DUC, and the student will not know where that is.”

The acronym for the building sounding like an animal is one reason Bailey said it was simply time to make a change.

“I led the charge and I told Dr. Ransdell I did not want to reopen this building calling it DUC,” Bailey said. “I’m not the only one that sees it, but an acronym that’s an animal isn’t the classiest thing you could do with a building where $50 million was just spent renovating it.

“Student union gives it much more of an identity and belonging to the students.”