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Capital University News, California State University, Sacramento

September 22, 2003

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.


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California State University, Sacramento • Public Affairs
6000 J Street • Sacramento, CA 95819-6026 • (916) 278-6156 • infodesk@csus.edu
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California State University, Sacramento • Public Affairs
6000 J Street • Sacramento, CA 95819-6026 • (916) 278-6156 • infodesk@csus.edu