Demolition begins for EMU remodel on Oregon campus

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EUGENE, Ore. - Even the late John Belushi might get excited about this party.

"I think he'd be yelling 'food fight!'" said Dan Geiger.

A place forever tied to that scene from "Animal House," the Erb Memorial Union - or EMU for short - is about to get a facelift.

University of Oregon students planned a demolition-down payment Thursday at the EMU at an event called the Sledgehammer Sayonara.

Private funds and a new $67 per term student fee is paying for the EMU revamp.

The concrete half of the EMU is coming down, said Geiger, the renovation manager.

"It's not what students expect in a modern student union, so we're going to be fixing from some of the existing problems with the building, including universal access," he said.

Concept drawings and models show an emu with expanded space for the student union and conferences, even a bike center.

While the main demolition and renovation is still pending, work begins now on phase one of the project: the new EMU craft center.

Student leaders say they badly need a single place for all groups to meet and have space, something they don't have now.

"Our goal in the new EMU is to bring everyone together, which will hopefully unify students, unify student groups," said Brandi Freeman, a member of the EMU board.