The University Student Union (USU) at California State University, Northridge is a student centered non-profit organization that works to expand the college experience through various programs, services, employment, and involvement opportunities.
Our mission is to foster the achievement of students’ educational goals by facilitating a strong connection between students and their campus community.
We are an engaging and energetic campus program that develops students through inclusive activities, meaningful employment opportunities, leadership experiences and innovative technologies, facilities, and services.
This year truly has been an unprecedented chapter in the history of the University Student Union at California State University, Northridge and the world.
On March 13, 2020, we all awoke to news reports that would change the trajectory of how we functioned as an organization. Our students and the campus community were faced with the reality of the rapidly spreading COVID-19, a pandemic the likes of which had not been seen in more than a century.
Unease gripped our personal lives as we simultaneously dealt with the challenges of supporting student development and success in such an uncertain time. With the city, county and state issuing stay-at-home orders, CSUN President Dianne Harrison announced that the University was transitioning to an online class format, prompting the USU to accelerate planning for its virtual programming for students while staff transitioned to working remotely from home.
We focused on building connections through a range of digital communications in order to keep CSUN students and the campus community up to date regarding the ongoing services, programs and centers that we continued to offer as the impact of COVID-19 intensified. Shifting our attention to reach students through innovative technologies and essential resources was paramount to our ongoing mission of supporting student success.
The USU, through its diversity and inclusion department, provided safe spaces for students and the campus community to come together to dialogue, support each other, share resources, information and knowledge in response to the horrific killing of George Floyd.
After a brief hiatus, we continued making progress with the strategic planning for “The New Heart of Campus” project that ultimately will transform the CSUN experience for all students. This multi-million dollar project is designed to add new meeting rooms, study spaces, and dining areas for students 2024–2025.
We were extremely proud to officially welcome the DREAM Center to the USU on July 1. This is an exciting step that will continue to provide support for undocumented, mixed-status families, staff, faculty, allies and future undocumented CSUN students with a new level of support and services.
It was indeed an unusual year for all of us and we are prepared to continue serving CSUN students and our virtual University community for as long as it takes to find a resolution to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As we look ahead to a year that will operate in the virtual space primarily, we remain committed to serving our constituents… and together, we will rise.
This year, the University Student Union (USU) at California State University, Northridge (CSUN) accomplished many projects at a time when we were all traveling upstream through a global pandemic, an economic crisis, and the continued assault on Black Lives. We have no doubt that, in the future, the USU will continue to widen and deepen its footprint throughout the CSUN community by providing diversity, equity, and transformation.
One of our biggest accomplishments this year was finalizing preparations for the incorporation of the DREAM Center as part of the University Student Union. DREAM stands for Dreamers, Resources, Empowerment, Advocacy, and Mentorship. The center is a welcoming space that provides resources and services to undocumented students, mixed-status families, staff, faculty, allies, and future undocumented students while fostering a more inclusive campus community.
We continued making progress with the strategic planning for our highly anticipated “New Heart of Campus” construction project. But then with the sudden arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, we immediately shifted our goals to supporting and engaging the campus community in the safest and most meaningful ways possible. Additionally, the entire USU staff rapidly transitioned to working remotely and every resource center was committed to developing a wide range of virtual programming for all CSUN students.
We both are incredibly proud of how quickly the USU came together at the onset of the pandemic. We would like to thank the USU staff for the immediate response to help the Matador community and extend a special thanks to all of the members of the team who met with CSUN administrators, posted updates, and worked to transition to remote work by adopting new technologies to provide the necessary services. By virtue of those dedicated teams, we were able to end the semester strong and experience some USU pride.
The University Student Union continues to pursue an aggressive agenda to enhance and sustain its status as a premier student union centered on student engagement. In the midst of this unprecedented pandemic, the all-too-common violence and continued threat perpetrated against Black people and other communities of color in our country escalated. The USU, in collaboration with University Counseling, hosted a virtual event “Healing Space: Uplifting the Community After Tragic Loss” to help the CSUN community process the killing of George Floyd and the many others.
It was crucial to the CSUN campus community for the USU to be proactive in starting the dialogue regarding important issues facing our students. From conversations about ending disparities to fostering discussions with inclusive communities about antiracist ideas, our students gained valuable perspective on the importance of supporting intersecting identities.
While we know it is still a time of uncertainty, we are reassured by the University Student Union’s ongoing commitment to supporting the educational mission of CSUN by enhancing the collegiate experience with quality programs, facilities, and services through diversity, equity and transformation.
It was a year both unprecedented and extraordinary. An unknown virus changed the course of the University Student Union and ushered in a new way of connecting communities at CSUN. This was the year of Matadors Rising.
This was the year that will long be known as both unprecedented and extraordinary. An unknown virus had made its way to our shores that was destined to change the course of the University Student Union and usher in a new way of connecting communities at California State University, Northridge. This was the year of Matadors Rising.
It was January when the first case of a mysterious virus was confirmed in the West. Within weeks, it was labeled a pandemic. It’s culprit, the novel coronavirus-19. A campus-wide task force was formed to guide campus activities and by mid-March, stay-at-home orders were issued along with the decision to serve primarily as a virtual University and switch to online classes. The USU moved into action, deploying laptops, printers and phone services to essential staff and student employees as it began to wade in the untested waters of evolving its communities, services and programs into the virtual landscape.
With remarkable agility, our teams transitioned to remote operations, offering online programming to Matadors. Our use of technology helped us rapidly adapt to the virtual space in order to continue serving students and the campus through digital communications.
It became a shared vision to keep students fully informed and engaged while at home. Websites, emails and social media were the essential tools used for announcing the wide range of virtual programming offered live or on-demand by the Student Recreation Center, Oasis Wellness Center, Pride Center, Veterans Resource Center, USU Events and Diversity & Inclusion.
Our commitment was to make the transition for students as smooth as possible while continuing to build community and support. Virtual healing spaces were created as safe zones for students following the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and the Black Lives Matter protests that followed. As cries for social justice moved to the forefront of campus consciousness, we were in the moment, hosting new student conversations with renown leaders and campus partners, intersecting communities through online dialogues. It was a riveting time for the student union.
Early in the year, strategic planning continued for the “New Heart of Campus” construction project that the University Student Union envisions as the new center of campus life at CSUN. The project, in concept, will serve as a hub for indoor study spaces, meeting spaces, eateries, and the home to cultural and resource centers.
What’s next for the University Student Union? Welcoming the DREAM Center as a resource and service to undocumented students, mixed-status families, staff, faculty and allies. We are excited to add this valuable center and the communities it serves.
It indeed was an unprecedented year for the University Student Union. As we look to the year ahead, we remain vigilant in asking students what they need to successfully pursue their CSUN degrees in the virtual space. We will listen. We will adapt. We are partners in creating transformative student experiences. We are Matadors Rising.
Highlighting a successful first year for its Influencer Series, USU Events brought popular social media influencer Jason Nash of the Vlog Squad to speak to CSUN students. Nash focused on the journey and experience of YouTube influencers, entertaining students and inviting them to ask important questions about individuality and following their passions. The event sold out quickly with a full house of 300 students. Nash also treated student attendees to a fun and memorable miniature golf putting contest with the winner receiving $2,500.
The Instagram post promoting the Influencer Series with Jason Nash received more than 1,100 likes and 99 comments.
The first Wellness Vending Machine in the CSU system was opened in the USU Sol Center to provide students with personal health items they can obtain in a discreet setting and at an affordable price.
This important new service was installed before the start of the Fall 2019 semester in partnership with the Klotz Student Health Center, the Women’s Resource and Research Center, The Master’s in Social Work Department, The University Corporation and Associated Students.
For its final Coffee Night of the Fall 2019 semester, the Pride Center collaborated with the Lighthouse Living Learning Community on this special event to invite all Deaf, hard-of-hearing students and folx who know American Sign Language to come socialize, meet and connect with new people.
This dynamic week-long Pride Center collaborative event with the Black House and WISDOM (Women Inspired to Succeed and Discover Opportunities through Mentoring) enabled students to engage in meaningful and important conversations dedicated to empowering the Black, Queer, and Trans* community.
A collaboration between the Administration and Marketing departments resulted in the production of 34 new StrengthsQuest® testimonial videos featuring USU student employees and staff speaking about their top talent themes and how they put them into action.
Social media-savvy Matadors had the opportunity to learn how to make their own mark in the digital world during the Influencer Series event featuring renowned YouTuber Jason Nash from the “Vlog Squad”. Nash shared his story and answered students’ questions before playing games with the audience for big prizes.
Before COVID-19 closed the campus in March 2020, the Oasis Wellness Center saw regular increases in visits per month compared to the same months the year before:
|July 2019||1,015||Up 102.6% (from 2018)||Oct. 2019||8,407||Up 2.8% (from 2018)|
|Aug. 2019||2,832||Up 13% (from 2018)||Nov. 2019||5,336||Down 2.9% (from 2018)|
|Sept. 2019||8,766||Up 26% (from 2018)||Dec. 2019||2,773||Up 85.2% (from 2018)|
Nutritional, Wellbeing, Art & Mindfulness Workshops
Peer Nutrition Education Appointments
Massage, Acupuncture, Reiki, Wellness Coaching Sessions
From July 2019 through January 2020, important progress was made toward beginning the renovation and construction projects that resulted from the previous year’s New Heart of Campus referendum campaign. Working with the architects, we were well on our way to enhancing the overall student experience at CSUN by designing a beautiful new building intended to be the new center of campus life.
As the project moved forward, we shared the architect renderings with the campus community and selected the construction firm we would work with to turn this dynamic concept into an inspiring reality. At the same time, we began scheduling our existing departments housed in the USU to make temporary moves to in order to stay fully operational while we renovated their existing facilities.
Throughout each step, our focus was on encouraging CSUN students to continue building community in our current spaces while we were preparing to welcome them all to our New Heart of Campus.
With the onset of the pandemic, our renovation and construction schedule had to be delayed — but only temporarily. In fact, we have continued our planning process and the revised timeline is already in development.
The USU created and distributed the timely and relevant Matador Tips for Success e-blast during Spring 2020, which was shared across campus at the beginning of the COVID-19 closure. Students were introduced to new ways to succeed and manage their responsibilities in a virtual environment.
When stay-at-home orders were issued in March, every USU center and service recalibrated to provide more than 140 programs and events for students and the CSUN community through virtual platforms.
USU Facilities and Maintenance provided masks, gloves, wipes and hand sanitizer for essential staff who provided needed technical and grounds support. Additional supplies and branded USU masks were ordered to facilitate the safe return of all employees once post-pandemic work resumes.
The USU Events Department and University Counseling Services collaborated to provide students with workshops about how to maintain mental well-being during the pandemic. Virtual workshops about stress management and coping techniques were held throughout the spring semester in four installments.
As classes moved online, USU staff and student employees were connected and continued working remotely through the combined efforts of the Human Resources (HR) and Technology Support Services (TSS) departments. HR quickly generated temporary telecommuting agreements for more than 200 employees and TSS provided the digital capability for them to continue operations while staying safe at home.
The Diversity and Inclusion Department (D&I) promotes equity through social justice by engaging with students, staff, faculty, and alumni through online programs. D&I also collaborated with University Counseling Services to provide ongoing weekly healing spaces to process and unpack the impact of police brutality and racial injustices. Through healing spaces, different individuals from all over campus participated in the conversations and implement action plans within their respective areas.
In light of the social unrest and advocacy that stemmed from the death of George Floyd at the hands of law enforcement, the USU provided spaces and programs that supported and promoted continued social advocacy and inclusion at CSUN.
WISDOM (Women Inspired to Succeed and Discover Opportunities through Mentoring) held check-ins with students and faculty to promote important virtual events such as a Healing Circle through Zoom.
D&I presented three new programs that focused on social justice and offered a safe space for CSUN students to talk and be heard. Program themes were Cultivating Community Cultural Wealth; Black Lives Matter; the Making of a Mass Movement and Healing Space.
The USU participated in a Black Lives Matter March on Saturday, June 6, 2020. Along with other USU student employees, D&I joined the peaceful march of solidarity and support while USU Events distributed water and snacks to participants in the march.
To further amplify the voices and stories of Blacks in America, the USU Events Department launched an awareness and education program about the importance of Juneteenth. Juneteenth (June 19) marks the day African slaves were “legally” free following the Emancipation Proclamation. The takeover highlighted the importance of the holiday to CSUN students and featured many important African-American innovators.
Through the transition to an online platform during COVID-19, the Diversity and Inclusion Department reached more students who in the past might have not been able to physically attend a program. The Black Lives Matter program attracted 190 participants.
The USU Board of Directors changed its new student member orientation into a week-long training that included a safe space to speak about the local and national climate regarding police brutality and systematic racism.
The BOD transitioned its traditional summer retreat into a month-long training. Student members engaged in team building activities through a creative Zoom format.
The Board of Directors collaborated with 29 different clubs and organizations on campus through Co-Sponsorships.
A weekly themed and curated playlist on Spotify where CSUN students tuned in, and added their favorite music to the list.
A signature Events Department program — Craft Corner was transitioned virtually, providing easy DIY projects with easy-to-find materials. Projects included creating your own face mask bandana, making an at-home coffee scrub, and upcycling old clothing. Each theme focused on wellness, relaxation, safety, and of course — creativity!
To provide virtual comedic relief during these times, professional comedians from LA brought laughs online for our students via Crowdcast.
A monthly how-to program about making the transition to adulthood included easy and healthy recipes to prepare at home and essential tips for CSUN Seniors about to graduate.
A fun and engaging hour of trivia via Zoom and Kahoot. Winners received Amazon gift cards for taking first place.
Matador Nights, CSUN’s best party every year, was bigger and better than ever. Thousands of students enjoyed a thrilling night full of carnival rides, a gaming truck, free food, interactive art installments and dancing with live DJs.
All Matadors were invited to saddle up for Matafest and kickoff the new school year. This fall’s western-themed event introduced new and returning CSUN students to the services and resources available to them through the USU while they also enjoyed fun activities, tasty barbeque and live music.
The CSUN community ventured into the unknown during a mesmerizing and awe-inspiring Mystic Evening. This incredible interactive show and dinner had guests spellbound by renowned mentalist Gabe Abelson as he enthralled and amazed the audience with his miraculous feats of the mind.
The perfect start to a fun and joyous holiday season was found at the USU Winter Pop Up. Students took a break from studying for finals to cozy up with tasty hot chocolate and delicious sweets while decorating holiday ornaments and enjoying a spin around a special skating rink.
CSUN students were invited to experience the bloom of a new semester during an exciting welcome back event, Spring Fest. Along with free food and activities like caricature portraits and henna tattoos, Matadors also enjoyed fun party games including musical chairs and the limbo while jamming to the hottest tunes from DJ Complex Lex.
CSUN students were able to express themselves and discover that art is for everybody during the USU’s interactive celebration of creativity, All That Art. Participants made their own crafts, explored a student art showcase and learned more about the influence of revolutionary pop-artist Keith Haring.
Students connected with each other and Pride Center employees every Tuesday in a fun and friendly virtual environment.
A special web series focused on job opportunities for the LGBTQIA+ students via YouTube and IGTV.
Matadors honored their academic achievements with a virtual Pride Center Graduation Recognition event via YouTube and Instagram.
This weekly game night provided LGBTQIA+ Matadors with a safe and fun space to socialize and connect during the pandemic.
Trans* and Queer People of Color conversations and discussion groups via Zoom.
A series of four dynamic workshops focused on empowerment via Zoom and live streamed to Facebook.
In celebration of Pride Month, the Pride Center launched OUT on Stage where students tuned in on IG Live to watch talented LGBTQIA+ performances (drag performers, singers, dancers, comedians, and spoken word).
in-person programs pre-COVID
virtual programs during COVID
To continue engaging with CSUN Student Veterans, a new way to connect via Zoom was created where students could ask questions, schedule meetings with staff and catch up with other military-connected Matadors.
Programs like Elevate, The Blend and Women to Women provided unique opportunities for attendees to connect with professionals.
Professionals from various industries shared about their respective fields and success tips with students.
A program that provides resources and support to student veterans and other military-connected students.
Members of the CSUN community with military ties were invited to a special Military-Connected Luncheon hosted by the Veterans Resource Center. Attendees met and mingled while learning about the various resources the VRC provides on campus and beyond.
The Student Veteran Emergency Relief Fund continued to support student veterans who faced housing and food insecurity by awarding them more than $7,500.
The Games Room transitioned to an online gaming format by connecting students remotely to its programs and tournaments.
In the Fall, prior to COVID-19, there was a 90% increase in Games Room tournament and special events participants over the previous year.
Increase in Games Room Participants
An exciting new way for Matadors to play! A dynamic series of exercise videos featured talented SRC instructors on the SRC YouTube channel.
eSports console tournaments such as FIFA 20 and NBA2K 20 along with online sports trivia and step competitions.
The SRC will soon introduce a hands-free entry system for members.
In Spring 2020, the SRC offered more live-streamed classes at preferred times, a small library of pre-recorded (on-demand) classes, social media bodyweight workouts, as well as fun virtual fitness challenges to incentivize the CSUN community to stay active during the pandemic. Eighty-eight percent of participants indicated they were satisfied or extremely satisfied with those opportunities.
The Wellness Center created an on-demand digital library for students to promote mental health. It includes access to New York Times Best Seller’s lifestyle books and meditation apps that offer more than 45,000 free mindfulness courses and meditations.
At the onset of COVID-19 in March 2020, USU Administration revamped its ordering procedure to provide staff with a service that delivers office supplies to their homes. This team worked closely with staff to answer questions, provide suggestions and deliver tailored customer service so that home workspaces had the supplies needed to serve CSUN students remotely.
Student Assistant Employees in Administration prepared for job interviewing in the age of the pandemic by practicing group interviews via teleconferencing. Over the course of two one-hour group mock interviews, students improved their level of interview preparation (company research, attire, video background staging), articulation of accomplishments, and improved their conciseness in answering questions.
The Computer Lab launched its new custom-built LabAssist app that offers live one-on-one remote software assistance. This enabled CSUN students to remotely access a student-tailored digital desktop, featuring popular software programs such as the full Microsoft Office Suite and select Adobe Creative Cloud programs.
A new employee-praise system was launched that encourages customers to provide feedback directly to employees.
The Virtual Tech Tips program offered 16 software workshops over 3 weeks.
The Marketing Department created a new video for New Student Orientation that features both existing footage to increase awareness about the USU’s role on campus and promotes virtual events and opportunities to students.
During summer 2020, Sunny Days Camp transitioned to an online platform due to the COVID-19 and the Stay-at-Home mandates. The annual community program for young campers implemented a curbside pickup procedure for parents to pick up weekly materials for their children via a contactless delivery. Campers could interact with camp staff in “Zoom Rooms” that featured livestream camp activities.
In preparation for the DREAM Center officially joining the USU on July 1, 2020, the center staff collaborated with USU Marketing to transition content from its previous website to the new DREAM Center website. The transition included a review and revision of all existing content for accessibility and branding standards, as well as the development of new supplemental content to serve CSUN students.
USU Assessment provided important programming support by launching COVID-19 needs assessments. A redesign of assessment methods to understand “What Success Looks Like Now” during the transition to virtual modalities was initiated to assist USU departments in measuring programs and solicited the virtual needs of CSUN students.
A total of 36 assessment projects were supported that resulted in the valuable feedback of 1,725 individuals from the CSUN community.
The USU Graduate Appreciation Luncheon in Spring was modified in response to COVID-19 to be a virtual workshop about Finding a Job During Difficult Times. USU staff members and Lucy Macis, Career Counselor & Engagement Program Coordinator with the CSUN Career Center, answered new graduates’ questions and provided them with valuable advice about finding a job during the pandemic.
Staff supervisors were asked by the HR team to Dare to Lead during a unique Supervisor Training Program. USU supervisors walked down a path that enabled them to maximize their leadership potential to better serve CSUN students.
This installment of the on-site conference for student employees was themed Wholehearted Living: Cultivating Courage, Compassion & Connection. USU student employees learned how wholehearted living can help them succeed both in and out of the workplace.
Focusing on the theme Wholehearted Learning: Cultivating Courage, Compassion & Connection, Student Assistant Employees of the USU enhanced their personal and professional knowledge at this unique conferencing experience held at the beginning of the semester. Throughout the day, compelling workshops were presented to help broaden their skillsets as they prepare for their future careers.
An implementation of electronic processing and filing of financial documents due to COVID-19, promoted business efficiency of the department, and provided a more efficient workflow throughout departments.
The cloud-based e-signature service that allows users to send, sign, track, and manage signature processes was introduced as an efficient way to process documents.
Accounting & Finance collaborated with PeopleSoft support and Student Recreation Center membership services to process SRC refunds that resulted from the transition to a virtual environment.
The Accounting and Finance Department completed its 2018–19 annual financial audit with no findings or adjustments for a remarkable 14th consecutive year.
|Cash and cash equivalents||2,558,908||423,317|
|Accounts receivable, net||26,101||60,038|
|Prepaid expenses and other||92,696||101,443|
|Total current assets||6,730,984||5,701,132|
|Property and equipment, net||670,003||710,016|
|Liabilities and Net Assets|
|Current portion of postretirement benefit payable||31,659||31,113|
|Total current liabilities||1,293,185||1,762,463|
|Postretirement benefit payable, net of current portion||3,495,735||2,852,291|
|Net assets, without donor restrictions||2,612,067||1,796,394|
|Total liabilities and net assets||7,400,987||6,411,148|
|Student activity fees||15,835,020||14,729,026|
|Recreation center income||483,772||697,000|
|Total operating revenues||17,711,497||17,232,802|
|General and administrative||4,465,481||4,779,144|
|Total operating expenses||16,293,142||17,033,623|
|Change in net assets from operating activities||1,418,355||199,179|
|Nonoperating (expense) revenue|
|Other components of net postretirement benefit cost||(114,272)||(129,218)|
|Postretirement changes other than net postretirement benefit cost||(577,426)||(354,193)|
|Loss on disposal of property and equipment||2,965||–|
|Net nonoperating expense||(602,682)||(424,539)|
|Change in net assets||815,673||(225,360)|
|Net assets, beginning||1,796,394||2,021,754|
|Net assets, end||2,612,067||1,796,394|