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Capital University News, California State University, Sacramento
University Union: Abuzz with activity
The eyes of the
state and nation were recently on the University Union Ballroom as the venue
for the debate among the leading candidates for the upcoming gubernatorial recall
election. While the Sept. 24 debate kept the Union staff on their toes, in some
ways it was business as usual for one of the hubs of campus activity.
On any given day during the academic year, the number of visitors to the University
Union could fill Arco Arena for a sold-out Kings game.
The average school day sees 17,000 students, staff, faculty and visitors walk
through the doors at the Union. Some are looking for a quick meal, a place to
study or an ATM machine. Others might be attending a gala dinner, free concert
or educational lecture.
But all visitors will find the same thing: a place that has something for everyone.
“We try to keep up with what students want,” says Don Tucker, assistant
director of operations for the Union. “We are really student-driven. They
make up not only most of our customers, but our board of directors and staff
as well,” Tucker says.
As would be expected on a college campus, the energy in the Union is contagious.
The constant stream of visitors and students gathered at tables, sipping coffee
and studying, creates a buzz on the first floor that dissipates only slightly
on the second and third floors, where visitors can find quiet study areas, computer
labs and TV lounges.
The number of visitors and events held each day at the Union provides a constant
challenge for staff. In fact, during a three-day period in the spring, when
the Union fed dinner to and entertained more than 1,500 people, a few staff
members spent the night at a nearby hotel so they could be available.
Day one included sit-down dinner for 600 in the University Ballroom to honor
local businessman Angelo Tsakoupolous’ donation of Greek artifacts and
books to the CSUS Library.. On the same evening students were gathered until
nearly midnight in the Union to monitor the results of the ASI elections. Meanwhile,
Round Table Pizza was packed with students watching the Kings beat the Jazz
to move into the second round of NBA playoffs.
On day two the political satire theatre group Capital Steps staged a sold-out
performance for 1,000 people in the University Ballroom.
On day three the University Ballroom was once again the setting as former CSUS
President Donald Gerth was honored for his years of service to the CSU system.
The set-up called not only for dinner tables for all 900 guests, but a stage
and dance floor as well.
In addition to the steady stream of large events that take place at the Union,
it’s also a place for student groups to get together to study, have a
meeting, or form a club. “Every night of the week from Sunday to Thursday
is filled with student meetings” says Tucker.
Union staff is constantly looking at ways to improve services to its visitors,
and recently made plans to provide cover for two outside dining patios, giving
students more sheltered space to eat, visit with friends, or study for a big
exam. In addition, Tucker says that, after 30 years of use, the billiard tables
in the game room have been replaced. Less exciting changes, although just as
important, include a new roof and projectors in meeting rooms.
As the building changes so have the interests of the students, Tucker says.
“Students are a lot more serious now than when I started 17 years ago,”
he says. He points to a room on the second floor to illustrate his point. According
to Tucker, the room served as a “meditation” room in the 1970s,
but was converted to a TV lounge in the 1980s. A few years ago, it was turned
into a group study room.
And today? It’s a computer room.
California State University, Sacramento Public Affairs
6000 J Street Sacramento, CA 95819-6026 (916) 278-6156