University UNIQUE

Image: University UNIQUE ::

Image: University UNIQUE ::

Jason Okamoto

Picture a Sacramento State student who has not had the best day at school. He was late to class, forgot his textbook, failed the crucial pop quiz, dropped a book in the mud, whatever. The student begins to walk to his car, parked in one of the “I give up” parking lots.

If the student takes the path that meanders in front of the University Union, he may come across a man. The man stands off to the side of the pathway like a hitchhiker, but shouts like a cattle auctioneer: “It?s OK to have fun!” That man is Dean Sorensen.

When the Union Network for Innovative Quality University Entertainment, better known as UNIQUE programs, formed 23 years ago, it was doubtful that anyone could have predicted the fiery delivery of Program Adviser Sorensen.

“He?s addicted to coffee,” said Rosie Maddalena, a two-year UNIQUE volunteer.

This may explain Dean?s excitement when he encourages students to attend the weekly outdoor “Nooner” mini-concerts.

UNIQUE is behind virtually all concerts, lectures, comedy showcases and multicultural events held in the University Union. Aside from the “Nooners,” UNIQUE has organized concerts from artists such as Cake, Los Lobos, Fastball and last week?s They Might Be Giants show.

The twin engines that drive UNIQUE are Dean Sorensen and Bill Olmsted. Both men were Sac State students before taking jobs on campus. Bill was a design major, and Dean took graduate classes at Sac State after double-majoring in political science and journalism at the University of the Pacific. Now Dean?s job is to keep his ear to the streets, as Bill designs posters with an almost mad scientist level of creativity.

“Dean books it and kicks it down the hall, and we promote it,” Olmsted said. However, it is much easier said than done.

UNIQUE?s major objective is to put on low-cost or free events for Sac State students while getting students involved in the program, but they need to cover 65 to 85 percent of their expenses with revenue generated from the shows.

Student volunteers this year number about 35, and anyone can join, whether they?re itching to refine job and social skills or just want to be involved in the show.

Having to keep up with student life and with what?s new is a major part of the job, but the two hardly see it as work.

“I like being around students,” Sorensen said. “Just feeling the general pulse of the campus.”

“Working with students is our fountain of youth,” Olmsted added.

The UNIQUE volunteers have no problem confirming the sentiment of their bosses.

“Dean has to be pretty cool to want to hang out with a bunch of college students,” Maddalena said.

John Kubasak, another two-year volunteer, said, “Bill is incredibly creative and has a great sense of humor.”

UNIQUE also works closely with the Multi-Cultural and Women?s Resource Centers. Speakers such as Amy Tan, Spike Lee and Cesar Chavez have been brought to campus to enlighten students.

Upcoming UNIQUE events include the “San Francisco International Comedy Competition,” a concert by ska band “Save Ferris,” an improvisational sketch show put on by “Second City Comedy” and this week?s “Loveline with Dr. Drew.”

“We?ve also got Mankind (Mick Foley), the wrestler, coming to speak,” Sorensen said.

“We want to keep you guessing what?s coming next,” added Olmsted. “Where else are you going to see him?”