The Union is home to the , were food is served, without which no TIPster will long survive (except for ordering food). The Marketplace has a salad bar, a selection of cereals, pizza-shaped cardboard, various sodas and healthy drinks, and various hot meals, formerly including Blazing Sea Nuggets. Unlike Davidson, food does not appear in various incarnations over several days, with the exception of the Durham market, which has different local meals daily. (They are usually organic too.) Between 2004 and 2005, a "world" menu was added, and in 2006 the food was revised when a new caterer was hired.
The union cafeteria is home to the beloved Wallace the Omelette Man, who makes splendid omelettes,to the great distress of all returning TiPsters, Wallace was not present at term1 2012. , and to the infamous pizza nazi, whose sole purpose in existence seems to be to make sure that no one ever gets more than one piece of pizza at a time. Ever. There's a different incarnation of the pizza nazi every year, but there's always a pizza nazi. (Term 1 2012: the pizza nazi watched with an eagle eye... 1, 2, ......3 STOP!!! only 2 pieces!!!)
The dining hall itself is very spacious and aesthetically pleasing, with a high, attractive ceiling, decent lighting, and plenty of salt shakers.
In addition to the dining hall and cafeteria, the Union houses the Trinity Cafe (not related to the Trinity) during the academic year. The Trinity Cafe serves various caffeinated drinks, and inspired the song "Lady at Trinity", based off of "Taylor, the Latte Boy", during Term II, 2004. The cafe was closed in 2007.
The basement of the Union houses a small store stocking many things a TIPster might need, including boring academic supplies (paper, etc.); construction materials (for skits and such), and Duke paraphanaelia; including t-shirts, hats, sweatshirts, and teddy bears. The store also houses "protest food" for when the cafeteria food just gets too bad, i.e. Ramen Noodles, Hot Pockets, and pints of Ben & Jerry's. The class Past is the Present at Term II '04 was notorious for buying pints after lunch and mass-devouring them. The basement is also home to a minimal post office and bathrooms.
It should be noted that Union Store staff policy is very stringent. Reading of newspapers and magazines, even the parts visible to all customers, without intent to purchase inevitably will result in getting yelled at. Moreover, the staff will not hesitate to confiscate a TIPster's Trinity Cafe drinks, if they are brought into the store. They have also been known to pursue TIPsters and/or contact TIP staff if they leave the store instead of throwing out their full drinks.
Old school TIPsters called the union store the dope shop, and the staff thereof "evil dope shop workers".
Upstairs in the union is a "ballroom", used for salsa nights and by TIPsters who want to practice dancing for a TIPsync, Talent Show, or just for the hell of it. However, it is apparently out of bounds during free time.
Roughly a decade ago, most social events took place on the Lilly Library steps rather than the Union ones.
During dances at East, which are based on the Circle Quad, speakers and the DJ station are mounted on the Union. The union steps are the site for the Time Warp dance. If it should rain the dances are moved into the Union's lobby (it is unpleasant and quite crowded; it happened Term II 2005 and 2006). Except in the case of the last dance of Term 1, 2009. TiPsters danced in the rain, and tarps became involved. It was the best.
The Union is the focal point of Quadfest, where dorms enter, and where songs and skits take place.
During Quadfest Term II, '06, one of the columns outside of the Union recieved a splotch of Giles green paint. It was removed within the next three days, but alas, the poor Union still has a cleaning fluid stain.
At the closing of Casino Day, the Union is the site of placing announcements and prize distribution.