Volume 81 | Issue 4
July 2013

Santos Manuel Student Union, California State University–San Bernardino

The California State University–San Bernardino Student Union was built in 1978. At the time, it was 15,000 sq. ft. and meant to serve 5,000 students. It has since been renovated and expanded to meet current needs.

In 1993, the first renovation project was completed, adding 18,000 sq. ft. And in 2006, 50,000 sq. ft. was added, allowing for additional services and programming space.

This second renovation was made possible by a generous donation from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. When the building reopened in 2006, it was named after its benefactor.

“The naming of the building was a gesture of thanks,” said Tess Sheets, graduate assistant. “At the time, the donation from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians was the largest single donation in the history of the university.”

The Student Union was the first building in the California State University system to be named after a Native American.

Unique Features

The Student Union has four program centers, each focused on a specific campus population.

“The Pride Center offers support, programming, and safe space to members of the GLBT campus community,” Sheets said. “The Osher Adult Re-Entry Center serves nontraditional students, providing a venue for these students to become part of the campus community. The Cross-Cultural Center focuses on raising cultural awareness through programs and outreach. The Women’s Resource Center offers programing and services to support, educate, and empower women.”

According to Sheets, the lounges in each center are typically full of students socializing and discussing relevant issues.
Additionally, the Gamer’s Lounge offers billiards, console games, and board games, as well as being home to numerous gaming tournaments.

Students’ Role

A board of directors, comprised primarily of students, governs the Student Union.

“The Student Union Board of Directors enacts policies to ensure the fiscal viability and effective operation of the Student Union building and its programs and services,” Sheets said. “The Student Union is a California nonprofit corporation and an auxiliary of the university.”

Students are also employed by the union and the recreation center; combined, more than 200 students assist in the daily operations of these buildings.

"Students work in a variety of functions to support day-to-day operations and are entrusted with a high level of responsibility, including supervisory positions,” Sheets said.


Past notable speakers include Maya Angelou, Jesse Jackson, Sandra Cisneros, and Chaz Bono.

In addition to other programming, two annual events are the California Native American Day, where 1,500 local school children come to the union and explore Native American culture, and the San Manuel Pow Wow, which draws 20,000 attendees each year, according to Sheets.