MacEwan Conference and Event Centre is the seat of the students union of the new university, which in 1966 became autonomous from the University of Alberta. In the early 1970s, Mac Hall included a food services area that seated 500, pool and ping-pong tables, a bowling alley, a 1,000 person dining room and ballroom, a fire pit lounge, a music lounge, a library, offices and meeting rooms, a bank, a barber, and a bookstore.
Part of the mystique of the university has been torn away. The old university with its absent-minded professors and its ivy-covered walls is a romantic picture that stirs pleasant memories, but little enthusiasm as a model for today's development. The new universities are "public property" in a sense that was not true of universities in the past. As a consequence, all aspects of the university's life and work are being regarded afresh by many people unfamiliar with university traditions. And while these people are not unsympathetic with what they see, they do not hesitate to criticize sharply when they see fit. The university no longer enjoys an isolated and protected position in the community.