University Unions celebrates 40 with a bang

Vu Chau

The University Union at Sacramento State will be celebrating its 40th anniversary with the campus community and the general public by hosting a series of entertainment events on Thursday, April 14.

The eight-hour long celebration is hosted by the University Union staff to commemorate the momentous event as well as giving students a chance to look back at the history of the building that they have come to love during their time here at Sac State.

“At Sac State, we are very fortunate to have a place like the Union,” said Dean Sorensen, director of the University Union. “We’re more like the living room or family room of the university where you can formally greet important guests and casually relaxing at the same time.”

On the day of the celebration, President Robert Nelsen will be cutting the birthday cake in a short ceremony at 2 p.m., which marks the official time for all the festivities to begin.

From 2- 6 p.m., there will be entertainment provided by the Element Brass Band, Funkengruven, Aztec dancers, and the KSSU radio station. Other activities such as games and commemorative items will also be given out to participants during this time.

Multiple Grammy Awards-winning band Ozomatli will headline the nighttime entertainment activities with a live concert from 7-10 p.m. at the Serna Plaza. Local Latin and reggae band Sol Peligro will open for the Los Angeles-based Ozomatli at the concert.

The University Union opened at the beginning of the school year of 1975-76. Since then, the building has undergone many upgrades and changes that has helped show its usefulness and attractiveness to communities, on and off campus.

The construction for the first major expansion on the building completed in 1992 with new spaces opened such as The Buzz restaurant. The second major expansion was completed in 1998 with more rooms built on the second and third floors, as well as the ballroom on first floor.

In the meantime, the Union is working on a plan to do even more expansion where more rooms will be added above the space of The Buzz.

Sorensen has been working at the Union since the mid-1980s. He has had many opportunities in those years to witness first hand the building’s changes and growth.

“I also had the opportunity to meet many alumni who came through and said ‘boy, would have been great if we’d had a Union back when we were students,’” Sorensen said. “Ever since, I began to have a greater appreciation for what a college Union does in terms of adding value to the life of the campus.”

Sorensen also said that Unions are designed to serve as a facility and a program that brings everyone together. The term “union,” to Sorensen, is not something accidental but it carries a much deeper meaning for him.

Norma Sanchez, the Union’s assistant director of operations, said she also noticed the building’s growth in size and relevancy amongst the campus community.

“[The University Union] keeps reinventing ourselves in the sense of staying up with trends like the Games Room,” Sanchez said. “The Games Room is more digital now compared to the past … We also used to have old, clunky furniture and now everything is just sleek and clean.”

Even world-renowned Ozomatli has a connection with Sac State. Guitarist Raul Pacheco attended the university and still has friends and families living in Sacramento.

“We have always had a great connection with Sacramento so it’s great to be invited to perform at the anniversary,” said Ulises Bella, a multi-instrumentalist of Ozomatli. “At the concert, we will be incorporating a lot of new materials and productions from our new records so I think it will be fun.”