The Caw Student Centre is a 3-level, facility where many students gather for recreational and leisurely purposes. It is located at 401 Sunset Avenue on the University of Windsor campus. Situated inside are the offices of many services, such as the Organization of Part-Time University Students (OPUS), Student Information Resource Centre (SIRC) and University of Windsor Student Alliance (UWSA). Students can also find a quiet study space, lounge area with sofas, several club rooms, a cafeteria, and the newly renovated pub, named the Basement. As of September 6, 2007, the centre is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week until the end of classes in April 2008.
The CAW Student Centre, originally known as “the University Centre”, was built in 1961 and was designed to accommodate approximately 1,500 students. By 1991, more than 7000 students passed through the doors per day.The decision to renovate the old building was part of a 2-phase project of the university’s Investing In Leadership campaign that was intended to enhance the quality of student life. Phase I of the expansion plan was the creation of the Odette School of Business. Phase II saw the renovations of the student centre by doubling its size. Also involved in the development plans was the University Centre Advisory Board (UCAB), made up of mostly students, who had been working on the renovation planning since 1987.
The cost of the project was approximately $4.9 million.In order to raise the necessary funds, a student referendum was held in 1989 and 1990. Though only 6.2 percent of all students voted, the majority of voters said “yes” to expand the centre. Students agreed to pay an extra $5 per course over the next 28 years to raise $10 million. The rest of the funds would be donated by the Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW), under Frank McAnally, then president of CAW Local 200 and co-chairman of the student centre fundraising committee. Totalling approximately $4 million over 5 years, the 10 CAW locals assented to raise the money by asking its members and retirees.
The student and local union “partnership” was the first of its kind in Canada and the first student centre to have naming rights to the CAW. In honour of this, the University of Windsor announced on November 10 1991, that the newly renovated building would be called the CAW Student Centre.
The construction began in May 1992. Daniel Teramura, of the architectural firm of Moriyama and Teshima who was hired to design the new facility, “wanted to design a centre that would become the focal point of the campus, but not overwhelm any of the surrounding buildings.” A feature that to present day stands out is the two-story glass wall that gives students a view of Assumption Church and the Ambassador Bridge. Furthermore, Teramura designed each floor to have a theme. The centre of the main floor, known as “the Commons”, was to be the “heart of the building”, connecting students together.
Though it was completed by the beginning of classes on September 8, 1993, the official opening ceremony was held on October 23, 1993 with the unveiling of the building's commemorative plaque. Many officials involved in the project expressed the need for a new facility in order to attract more students and encourage them to continue in their academic years. CAW representatives believed a partnership between students and labor unions was crucial for the development of future training into the automotive sector. McAnnally believed this alliance would benefit everyone in the community. He also encouraged the University to expand the number of labor courses.
The CAW Student Centre was renovated in 2001. University of Windsor Student Alliance (UWSA) and officials from the University signed a contract that gave the latter permission to renovate the basement of the CAW Student Centre. The agreement also outlined that the UWSA pay back the interest of the debt to the University. Today, the UWSA is responsible for most of the management of the CAW Student Centre. The General Manager is Dale Coffin.