For many, "The Gift" is among the finest pieces of art at UNC, and is representative of the inclusiveness and thoughtful atmosphere the Carolina Union supports. “[‘The Gift’] is something that’s just very important to me personally and to a lot of people on this campus,” said Tammy Lambert, assistant director of Student Organizations, who has worked at the Carolina Union for more than 20 years. “It was a really big deal when it was installed.”
Recent improvements to the Carolina Union have been driven by student input and reflect their vision for spaces that are adapted to their needs. Collectively, they have created the building's reputation as "the living room of campus".
"We want students to have the loudest voice, since it is their fees that are used," King said. "It is their opportunity to make an impact with their resources and to activate responsible leadership by creating a building that will be useful to them and to the generations of students that follow them."
Overhauls to the West Lounge and Aquarium Lounge have provided versatile spaces that accommodate uses from quiet study to lively conversation over a bite to eat. The new Rehearsal Space was initiated by UNC's largest student-run dance group, Blank Canvas, which identified a need for additional performing arts practice spaces on campus.
The Healing Space, completed in 2017, offers a place for students to come in times of need. Amid the bustle of daily life at UNC, students said they needed room for quiet reflection at difficult moments was needed on campus. The lounge has a fireplace, chocolates, inspirational quotes, and even an oversized toy dog for cuddling.
Bermudez says the Union will continue to invest in physical spaces that are guided student input. “A lot of the vision is making sure we keep the student voice central so students see that we listen, we care and we want to make these improvements for them,” Bermudez said.
Today, the Carolina Union remains a driver of student experiences at Carolina. It is a hub for student life and houses the 800+ student organizations on UNC’s campus. It also provides students with opportunities to develop professionally and become more connected and involved in campus life.
Student Life & Leadership is active in creating programming, activities, and events that foster professional and social development among UNC students. The mission of Student Life and Leadership is “to create an inclusive Carolina community through engagement and intentional educational opportunities.” Programs such as Carolina United, LeaderShape, and the Bell Student Leadership Symposium reflect the emphasis Student Life & Leadership places upon collaboration, “lifelong learning, and authentic connections. As students learn, connect, and collaborate with their peers, they develop soft skills that can be carried throughout and following one’s time at UNC."