The Unknown Uses of the Viking Union

Found by Shamus McQuade

At Western Washington University, located in Bellingham, WA, there is a retail and classroom space known as the Viking Union, or VU for short. This building is used by the university as a place to learn, socialize, and get a quick bite to eat from either Subway or Panda Express. The building itself is 98,000 square feet, has seven floors, and has both students and non-students working there. It houses a café for students and staff to enjoy a relaxing moment from the chaos that is school and holds magnificent views of Bellingham Bay from the eating area and countless seats for conversations to be heard.

Walking in you hear constant conversations, the smell of orange chicken from Panda Express, and your eyes are drawn to the never ending line of people in line at either Starbucks, Subway or Panda Express. The layout is set up as an open space design where there is a breathtaking view of Bellingham Bay with abundance of seating for all your social needs. It also gives me the same vibe that you get while you’re eating out at the Golden Corral. If you immediately take a left, as you enter from the High Street entrance, there is an information desk that also sells snacks. This is also where you see a majority of the visitors because Subway and Panda Express are located here.

Going down a floor there are offices, the post office and some classrooms that actually have comfortable seats which is a delightful surprise. If for some reason you’re entering along the Garden Street entrance, you’ll see the Underground Café. The café has a roomy feel to it because the chairs and couches are those you would find in a living room of your home. They sell a variety of drinks and food that you can enjoy while having a conversation.

The VU uses these retail areas to draw in students and over time I’ve noticed that there is more to the VU than I saw at first glance. If you are on the 4th floor, there are multiple conference rooms that various clubs use at different times.


 My personal favorite is the Smash Club that is held in room 464. This is an electronic gaming club that is ironically held in the same room as the Western Washington University Athletic Hall of Fame. These conference rooms are also used for study groups which works very well because each room seems to have its own long, gray, conference table with multiple comfy seats surrounding the table that can lead interesting conversations about whenever or not igneous rocks texture is either “smooth” or “glassy”. 

There are also multiple common areas that have tables and chairs where you people watch and study for a midterm or final that’s right around the corner.


My personal favorite is the Smash Club that is held in room 464. This is an electronic gaming club that is ironically held in the same room as the Western Washington University Athletic Hall of Fame. These conference rooms are also used for study groups which works very well because each room seems to have its own long, gray, conference table with multiple comfy seats surrounding the table that can lead interesting conversations about whenever or not igneous rocks texture is either “smooth” or “glassy”. There are also multiple common areas that have tables and chairs where you people watch and study for a midterm or final that’s right around the corner.

While the VU does a great job is serving multiple purposes there is still something digging in mind that something is just a bit off. Then one day while writing all my thoughts down, I realized that even with all the everyday things that happen daily, there isn’t that many “special events” that would draw more students to the VU for reasons other than a grumbling stomach. Sure Western Washington has events happen in a multipurpose room nearby, but there hasn’t been any special events that have happened specifically in the VU since the move in week at the beginning of Fall Quarter. If the VU were to add more events specifically for the VU, then there would be more on campus events that students would enjoy.

Overall the entire VU is used for studies, getting food, and finding a place to hang out and chill. This building exceeds in allowing students to do all those three things in comfort, style, and peace. I have found myself using this building more and more since writing this review and I have enjoyed every moment since. All in all, this place allows for a productive study area, a social hang out spot, and a place to satisfy you’re grumbling stomach.