Four years ago, when I was a senior in high school and searching for a college to attend, CSUN stood out in mind. After I visited the campus, I was determined to enroll at CSUN and become a part of its vast history.
I was attracted to CSUN’s activism and large crowds of students hanging around at the various quads on campus. In Fall 2001, a significantly large amount of students were always visible on campus, and clubs and organizations were more vocal about issues that were affecting them, either directly or indirectly. It was wonderful. It was inspiring.
Now, however, that I am going into my fifth year and I am finally a senior, I wonder what ever happened to the CSUN I first knew and fell in love with?
Over the past several years, I have seen my beloved campus rise to be an active campus with various Ford concert series and war protests to construction phase after construction phase. It is no wonder that several students on campus do not have the desire to get to know CSUN, and view the campus as a commuter school.
Prior to the significant construction phases at CSUN, one of the best places on campus where students had a chance to get acquainted to other students as well as the campus was the University Student Union. Students and faculty would often gather at USU to watch news or music shows on the big screen television, sleep on the couches in between classes, log on to Internet via computers, or meet up to have lunch and have vigorous debates. Any one and every one who went to the USU knew each other or eventually had an opportunity to to know one another. The USU was a place where friendships and memories were made. As the twin towers in New York fell into plumes of fire and smoke on Sept. 11, 2001, students, faculty and staff eagerly huddled together and watched news reports on the big screen in the USU.
All students, faculty and staff were united. Because of the then existence of the USU, this is my memory of Sept. 11.
Unfortunately, after construction began on the USU to improve its accessibility and look to be more modern, students, such as I, were lost and had nowhere to hang out on campus.
Suddenly, my outlook about CSUN changed and I was also guilty of looking at this school as a drive-by campus, and scheduled my classes to limit the amount of hours I had to spend on campus. At that time, there was nothing on campus that attracted me to stay on campus like the USU once did.
Where on campus do students, faculty and staff go to create memories, friendships and unity now that the USU ceases to exist? Will new and incoming students ever have the opportunity to experience CSUN the way I did when the USU existed?
The development and building of the Sierra Center is now rapidly becoming what the USU was to students, faculty and staff in Fall 2001, minus the intimate and cozy feeling the USU had.
The opening of the Sierra Center, however, does not solve the fact that students still view CSUN as simply a place to learn and then go home.
A new campus initiative must be implemented to push students away from looking at CSUN as a commuter campus, and get students to start looking at CSUN as a the hub of the San Fernando Valley.
The rebuilding of CSUN will be great in the long run of the university, however, it is currently distracting various students’ image of CSUN as a major competitive university.
The constant development and construction makes students want to leave campus rather than stay. The long building process of each project the university undertakes also discourages students to enjoy parts of campus that are not under construction. Some students that arrived at CSUN in 2002 and will graduate this year, who hoped they would one day see the completion of the USU, may never have the opportunity to see the University Student Union in its finality.
Now, what will CSUN administrators and campus clubs and organizations do to get students interested and inspired? Students, faculty and staff need a change and want a more visibly known CSUN.
CSUN administrators must re-evaluate their efforts in recruiting students to a campus that lacks the hype of the old-CSUN. They must build up support to expand the visibility of CSUN statewide and nationally by providing more concerts series, more open forums for debate and to reserve its new building projects to summer only or decrease construction time. Clubs and organizations on campus must become more passionate about issues and increase student involvement or awareness. Only then can we bring back the old CSUN that I first fell in love with
Veronica Rocha can be reached at email@example.com