If everyone is thinking alike, someone isn't thinking.
– George Patton
Volume 76 | Issue 3
May 2008

Union Spotlight: University Student Union at California State University-Long Beach

California State University–Long Beach
Four-year, public, urban, commuter, Hispanic serving
Full-time enrollment: 27,000
Location: Long Beach, Calif.

University Student Union
Director: Dave Edwards
Size: 181,000 sq. ft.
Floors: 4
Year built: 1971
Annual budget: $4 million
Student staff: 100 (part-time)
Nonstudent staff: 30 (full-time); 6 (part-time)



California State University–Long Beach opened the University Student Union in 1971. It was to serve as a place for student to hang out, eat, and study. In 1998, a renovation updated the building, adding a third floor, a conference center, escalator, and a walkway that helps the flow of traffic. Today, the building is 181,000 square feet, offering numerous services to students, staff, and faculty. The union also is undergoing a renovation project with the intent of modernizing and making the area more student-friendly.

Unique features

Each floor of the University Student Union is themed around a different service element. The first floor is dedicated to entertainment and media, offering bowling lanes, billiards, table tennis, outdoor pool, television lounge, and a movie theater. The floor is also home to offices for the campus radio station, campus television station, program council, and alumni association.

The second floor is geared toward student services and commercial zones. Vendors located here include Robek’s Juice, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Subway, El Pollo Loco, and Elektric Hair and Nails. Offices located on this floor include student life and development, communications, university police substation, union weekly newspaper, conference and events center, and more. Other service areas are the information center and business office as well as ballrooms.

The third floor houses the student government and administration as well as many multiuse meeting and conference rooms.

Students’ role

With the first floor dedicated to fun and games, it is a place where students can always be found. "Students like the convenient location, the wireless Internet access, the recreational options, the energy, and the LCD screen and surround sound system," said Christopher Nellum, a student employee.

The University Student Union employs 100 part-time students to help run day-to-day operations; and students are very involved in the governing system as the board of trustees is comprised mainly of students.


Programming includes a wide variety of events at California State University–Long Beach. The union has held lectures from Angela Davis, Elaine Browne, Nikki Giovanni, and Jimmy Fallon; concerts have included Black Eyed Peas, Underground, Talib Kweli, The Last Poets, Save Ferris, Keb Mo, and Hepcat, among others.

Other programs include the annual Rags-to-Rhythms Hip-Hop Fashion Show that showcases more than 50 student models and 30 urban clothing lines; this event attracts more than 500 students each year. In past years, the University Student Union also has been home to the Black Consciousness Center, Women in Careers Conference, and annual Nobel Laureate.