The University Student Union, as the heart of campus, uplifts and empowers students to achieve educational, personal and professional goals by providing leadership development, meaningful employment, and innovative programs, services and facilities. We promote equity, inclusion and well-being, while encouraging social justice advocacy to help Matadors feel heard, respected and connected to CSUN.
Dear USU Board of Directors,
I am honored to have been awarded the USU Bookstore Grant for spring 2021. Thank you for your generosity in providing this academic award. I am a full-time student currently in my last semester before I obtain my bachelor’s degree. Your award given to students who are in need of funding will be very beneficial in helping me achieve my academic and personal goals. My goal is to become a social worker and someday help other students and inspire them the way your award has inspired me. Thanks to your generous support. I feel like I am one step closer to achieving my goals. This award is very meaningful not only financially, but emotionally as well, it has strengthened my belief in myself. Thank you so much for helping a CSUN student like me to achieve my dreams.
As this year comes to an end, the University Student Union (USU) at California State University, Northridge can feel proud and honored about its outstanding work to support students. Our organization made a commitment not only to support students through their college journeys but also through an all-virtual academic year. We successfully transitioned many of our programs and events to a virtual setting while finding new and creative ways to keep students engaged.
The pandemic created a need for Matadors to adapt and change. For the USU, that meant shifting the way it operated to fulfil its mission. Everyone was on board and saw the necessity of putting students at the forefront more than ever. Students and their mental health became a priority because we recognized the effects and impacts of not only the pandemic but a racial pandemic as well.
The University Student Union was stellar at providing quick and efficient programming to support students during unprecedented times. The creation of Healing Spaces received high levels of engagement which reflected the impact and significance for those spaces. Students, faculty, and staff came together over Zoom and found a way to feel connected in a virtual world.
Our biggest and proudest moment was being able to fund and allocate basic needs initiatives to support students during the pandemic. The Board of Directors passed an allocation of $1.2 million of surplus funds to support book grants for 1,000+ students, care packages, funding for the Matacare grants, emergency housing, basic needs, and more than $50,000 for an endowment for social justice scholarships and scholarships used to support students served by our resource centers. Students across campus expressed their gratitude to the USU and Board of Directors for their commitment to students’ needs. It was a rewarding experience to hear from students the impact the University Student Union made during the academic year.
As things slowly evolve into a new normal, we remain proactive in enhancing the university experience for all CSUN students. We will embrace any change that comes with the new year and be prepared to serve our students in new ways. Our values and mission represent our ongoing commitment to continue serving Matadors at the highest level possible.
Chair, USU Board of Directors
Vice Chair, USU Board of Directors
The University Student Union at CSUN faced a transformative year as we learned more about what student engagement means in the year of a virtual university. While our situation amid COVID-19 remained uncertain at times, we proactively sought new ways to connect with our new and continuing students. As a built community for populations that continue to face injustices, we made it our priority to foster a renewed sense of belonging in a digital world.
These initiatives required us to ask ourselves what it meant to be a student during these extraordinary times, and what support Matadors needed to navigate their academic endeavors successfully.
With this in mind, we looked to C.O.N.N.E.C.T. with our students in the face of their needs in deeper and more meaningful ways. Through this acronym, we spelled it out for the students we serve and the peers we work with: “C” — Courage and Compassion, “O” — Optimism and Opportunity, “N” — Navigation & Negotiation, “N” — Nurturing and Networking, “E” — Education & Engagement, “C” — Culture & Community, and “T” — Training, Teaching and Telling the Truth. Through this model, we tried to address the unique needs of students while also trying to create “community” and engagement in a virtual world.
Through the leadership of our student-led Board of Directors, new opportunities were created to financially support Matadors as they pursued their academic goals and personal and professional desired outcomes. New partnerships were forged on campus and through the CSU system to strengthen student connections to the CSUN campus and embolden marginalized communities. Our virtual programs continued to address evolving social justice issues using intentional, purposeful efforts that were designed to help our students feel respected and heard.
We’re encouraged by the progress made on campus to begin discussing what a return to campus life might look like in the not-so-distant future. Together we’ll transition to a space where education can occur inside and outside the classroom, and student development can thrive face to face.
The lessons that we learned during this virtual year were invaluable as we plan for the future. The University Student Union at CSUN embraces the opportunities and the challenges as we stand ready to serve the students of this campus.
Debra L. Hammond
It was a year unlike any other. Twelve months of learning and living virtually. Through it all, the USU remained dedicated to its primary focus of positively impacting student engagement and development. Here are a few of the many contributions made to the university while facing the challenges of working remotely during the pandemic.
To better serve CSUN students remotely, the Virtual Lab was created. Matadors virtually accessed the Computer Lab’s software program library and received live one-on-one software support from remote student employee workers via Tawk.to online chats, Zoom and the USU custom-built app LabAssist.
The conversion of the Computer Lab to the Virtual Lab resulted in 125 remote sessions with students who received free access to Microsoft and Adobe software programs, and participated in 306 Tawk.to chats to get answers to questions through one-on-one software support.
Students who took classes on campus could print at the Computer Lab without touching equipment or being in close contact with others. Students uploaded documents online and once at the lab, had their documents printed by USU lab techs in a socially distanced environment.
Through a collaboration between Office Depot and the USU, CSUN students could print for free at any Office Depot location in the country by using a USU Print Card Program gift card. The USU built a custom auto-logic workflow system that automatically processed student applications. This first-of-its-kind partnership has enabled well over a thousand students to print for free at Office Depot in their own communities.
Our popular Computer Lab Tech Series program transitioned to a virtual platform, holding 26 online workshops to enhance student skills. The most frequently used software programs at CSUN include Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop — all free to CSUN students.
The USU Computer Lab reopened in May 2021 to offer students in-person access to Computer Lab services. This process required envisioning and developing alternate methods to deliver those services to meet the health and safety protocols required by the CSUN COVID-19 review team, university officials, local public health agencies and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Responding to the crisis that impacted a number of students during the height of the pandemic, the organization designated $1.2 million in USU student fees last year to specifically support Matadors in need. That support included:
The USU Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Department (DEI) placed an intentional focus on social justice, equity, and diversity-related programs for our students, faculty, and staff. This included the first installment of Juneteenth Takeover on June 19, a federal holiday that commemorates the emancipation of Black slaves. A series of social media posts, which garnered 214 likes on Instagram, highlighted what Juneteenth means to different Matadors and celebrated Black inventors.
Launching in spring 2021, the HEAL Project successfully provided virtual support to students experiencing complex barriers to academic success. Through healing-centered engagement (HCE) and a holistic educational approach, we provided access to support services for students who have been negatively impacted by domestic violence, housing, food and financial insecurities, mental health challenges and more.
WISDOM (Women Inspired to Succeed and Discover Opportunities through Mentoring) paired 12 female students of African descent with African American/Black faculty and staff members to build bonds through personal mentorship.
DEI successfully collaborated with CSUN’s Black House, Africana Studies, the University Library and University Counseling Services in a campus-wide Black History Month Celebration featuring two powerful programs:
Despite being virtual, DEI continued to provide welcoming events through the Cultural Welcomes series at the beginning of the fall and spring semesters that were attended by 644 participants. Cultural Welcomes were virtual spaces where students from CSUN’s four historically underserved communities (Asian American Pacific Islander, Latinx/a/o, American Indian, Black) came together to build rapport with faculty and staff and deepen connections to their campus.
In the wake of George Floyd’s death and mounting social unrest, the Say Their Name project was a video that served as a testament to the gravity of our community’s need to be heard, stand in solidarity, and heal. The video, released via Instagram, garnered an estimated 1,670 views.
In the summer of 2020, the USU’s first Social Media Advocacy Campaign (SMAC) posts went live, bringing awareness to the growing social unrest which was heightened by the death of George Floyd. For the first time, many Americans across the country would come to understand the unheard, unspoken, and unjust actions created by systemic racism and prejudice.
The first installments focused on support for our Black community, and later expanded to include other topics, reactions to threats to various cultural communities as well as events unfolding before us.
Posts supporting the Social Media Advocacy Campaign via Instagram revolutionized the way we engaged our students. It offered the campus community greater awareness about and the acknowledgment of students from various cultural backgrounds. A total of 21 SMAC posts were made resulting in 8,943 likes.
Essential Talks encouraged campus communities to have difficult conversations about police brutality, race and social injustices as well as provide the programs necessary to inform and educate Matadors. This later was supported by President Erika Beck’s Diversity and Equity Innovation Grant that provided large-scale programs twhich brought students, staff, faculty, alumni and community together for engaging and thought-provoking events.
Endorsed by the President’s Diversity and Equity Innovation Grant, Black Chat was created as a safe space designed for African American/Black students to discuss a variety of topics ranging from the current political climate, Black racial fatigue, personal growth tools, and pop culture.
These programs centered around student experiences and voices, hosted by the USU, the Rose Black Resource Center at Dominguez Hills, the Cal State L.A. Pan African Student Resource Center, and Cal Poly Pomona Black Student Union.
DEI provided educational programs focused on anti-racism, colonial ideologies, and social justice including:
The HEAL Project collaborated with the CSUN Food Pantry to provide students access to food and toiletry needs and referred interested students to University Counseling Services (UCS), Financial Aid Office, and Student Housing.
Responding to an important community need, again following the murder of George Floyd, DEI developed the Healing Spaces program. Healing Spaces were intended to create safe space for communities to come together to heal, be in community with one another and create support and advocacy for matters impacting members of our CSUN community. Later in the year, Healing Spaces received the Association of College Unions International (ACUI) Social Change Award for Racial Justice and continues to operate as a centralized social justice crisis response platform for CSUN.
Healing Spaces were held 15 times serving 731 students, staff and faculty from impacted communities including the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI), Black/African American, and Armenian communities by providing both education and supportive spaces. Participating students shared about belonging, support and community through Healing Spaces programs.
The Oasis Wellness Center, in collaboration with the USU Marketing Department, successfully launched its YouTube channel featuring 19 on-demand videos with captions, ranging from Reiki and yoga to art, meditation, and Qigong to enhance Matador wellbeing.
USU Marketing launched the USU Tik Tok account to heighten engagement with a new generation of social media savvy Matadors.
The USU’s Where Matadors Belong podcast debuted on Spotify and Apple Music. Each informative and entertaining episode was produced by students for students and hosted by a team of student marketing assistants.
USU Guest Services implemented an online chat function on the University Student Union’s webpage to bring an engaging one-on-one Q&A experience to the CSUN community.
The Pride Center launched a weekly tabletop role-playing game (TTRPG), that featured both short and long gaming sessions for players to explore imaginary worlds, solve intricate mysteries and develop complex problem-solving skills with their fellow Matadors throughout the semester.
The USU collaborated with 24 on- and off-campus partners with programs such as Envisioning What is Housing as a Human Right, Matadors Forward Ambassadors, Transforming Hispanic Serving Institutions, Cultural Welcomes, Crunch Time, Healing Spaces, Black Chat, An Afternoon with Madonna Thunder Hawk and Elizabeth Castle, Brown & Black in a Green Future: Green Spaces as Sites for Liberation, Walking the Tight Rope: Addressing Racial Battle Fatigue, Beyond Bachelors: Experiences of First Generation College Students and more.
The USU continued its biannual Summit training program for student and staff employees with a new theme, Rise During Difficult Times. Workshops looked at the positive impact that comes with caring for the emotional, environmental, physical, intellectual, and financial wellness of employees.
Following the event, 76% of respondents agreed that it was beneficial to attend the USU Summit for their professional development.
Each year, Student Assistant Employees of the USU voluntarily take two surveys about their experiences with the USU Student Employment Program. The first is from Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA) which surveys students about skills development that were learned or strengthened on the job, and the second is the Exit Survey which collects perceptions about students' work experiences as part of the exiting process.
2020–2021 student responses to skills learned during USU employment:
Students strongly agreed/agreed that their USU work experience:
Did you relate what you were learning in your USU position to what you already knew and had experienced outside of the USU?
Did you pause to think about the learning that you were receiving at the USU?
Did you spend moments thinking about your ability to comprehend the new strategies that you were learning?
In collaboration with CSU Dominguez Hills’ Latinx Cultural Center and its CSUDH Queer Culture and Resource Center, the Pride Center hosted Celebrando Nuestro Arcoíris, a Spanish-speaking space for LGBTQIA+ folks who sought to connect with other people in their community. The compelling topics of discussion included the feeling of isolation based on language barriers, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, and transphobia that can make finding community difficult. This workshop was presented entirely in Spanish and focused on community building and resource sharing.
The Pride Center provided opportunities for students throughout March to celebrate LGBTQIA+ women during Women’s History Month. Events included The Lavender Takeover, OUT on Stage, Check it Out: Feminist Front, Queerations with Sarah Hartshorne, and What, Like It’s Hard?: Queer and Trans Women Business Owners Panel. During the special month, students also had the opportunity to win prizes from LGBTQIA+ women-owned businesses.
The Oasis hosted the Wellness Talk Series, a series of virtual programs that featured BIPOC (Black, Indigenous & People of Color) leaders in the wellness industry who promoted diversity and inclusion.
Swing Into Spring — Ready, Set, 2021! A new one-day virtual event held during Winter Break featured a variety of dynamic programs that attracted 411 participants.
The Summertastic! RECreate Your Wellness! — International Yoga Day Celebration featured a full day of events both in person and online.
As Matadors searched online for wellbeing support, they enrolled in wellness courses. Despite being virtual, attendance in our wellness programs rose slightly as compared to previous years.
Following a yearlong closure, the Student Recreation Center held a limited reopening in June 2021 that welcomed 9,439 visitors to the facility that month.
Registrants enrolled in 15 fitness challenges and events.
Virtual Personal Trainer Sessions
Group Exercise Class Participants
Live-streamed and on-demand classes
Average participant rating for fitness classes in the MINDBODY app
SRC Aquatics provided Virtual American Red Cross CPR/First Aid/Automated External Defibrillator (AED) certification classes for Matadors during the spring and summer semesters with participants receiving their Adult and Pediatric CPR/First Aid/AED certifications (valid for 2 years). With a curbside pickup approach, students received American Red Cross equipment (adult & infant manikins, AED, gloves, and a face shield) in order to participate during the Zoom-led instruction.
CPR/First Aid-AED Certifications
SRC Intramural Sports collaborated with Associated Students to create an eSports space in the USU Games Room for use by students and the newly formed CSUN Esports Club to host tryouts, practices and tournaments.
Online gaming tournaments for FIFA 20, NBA2K20 as well as Sports and Gaming Trivia competitions kept student gamers connected and entertained while our series of Team Steps Competitions enabled Matadors to stay active, engaged and fit.
The SRC Membership Services Department calculated and processed roughly 2,300 prorated refunds for memberships and services that were purchased prior to the facility closure due to the pandemic. A total of 850 membership refunds were successfully provided throughout the 2020–21 fiscal year, totaling $51,218 in SRC membership and service fees that were refunded to SRC members.
The SRC also extended summer memberships to Continuing Students from the spring 2021 semester to provide more students an opportunity to utilize the facility upon its June 2021 reopening.
No matter how difficult the challenge, the USU Programs Department found a way to shift gears and transition many traditional events into virtual programs. This programming took full advantage of Zoom, Instagram, Crowdcast, Balloon and other online event platforms.
The USU Programs Department provided captivating virtual events with an impressive student turnout that more than tripled the number of attendees at reoccurring events from the previous year:
Our finals week stress-relief program, scheduled at the end of each semester, was reinvented to provide virtual workshops about wellness, relaxation, and fun. The program included cross-collaboration workout programs with the SRC and Oasis, as well as fun trivia with Games Room and the Veterans Resource Center (VRC). In keeping with tradition, free coffee and pastries were provided to CSUN students at local coffee shops and Geronimo’s, which is located in Student Housing.
Carnaval, traditionally a full-day event celebrating culture and diversity on campus, turned into a week-long virtual event in spring 2021. Each day, two different cultural restaurants and businesses were highlighted in the USU’s Instagram Stories and Reels. In addition, the USU pre-purchased meals from these featured businesses to provide free food to CSUN students with a valid CSUN ID. Other fun events included a virtual Fortune Teller, mailed craft boxes, and daily cultural performances via our Instagram Reels.
The crowd favorite, USU Night Market, took on a unique platform by shifting from an on-campus event to one that partnered with food trucks located up and down the coast of California. With the use of Instagram and clever marketing, we provided free food to CSUN students through food vouchers in several California communities. The event was well received, and provided a tasty, fun and safe engagement for students.
USU Reservation and Event Services opened and staffed two safe study spaces during the height of the pandemic in the Northridge Center and Extended University Commons for students who had classes on campus.
The USU’s annual Sunny Days Camp for kids successfully transitioned to an online platform due to in-person COVID-19 restrictions in summer 2020. Parents remained safe and social distanced through a curbside procedure to pick up weekly activity materials for their children via a contactless delivery system. With assistance from USU Operations, Technology Support Services and Maintenance, “Zoom Rooms” were created in the East Conference Center to present fun livestream activities for virtual campers participating from home.
With the impact of COVID-19 affecting consecutive graduating classes, the USU, in partnership with the Office of Student Involvement and Development (OSID), A.S. Productions, and other campus entities, created a unique celebratory CSUN Car Parade experience for more than 3,000 Matador graduates from the classes of 2020 and 2021.
Inspired by graduating students’ desire to celebrate their major milestones, the thrilling parade of cars featured a fun route for the grads, families, and friends through various areas of campus with crowds lining the streets each day from May 25 through May 27. The USU presented graduates with a CSUN/USU pennant, a lei, free ice cream, live music, and fun photo ops. It was a wonderful celebration that clearly communicated the ongoing spirit of “Once a Matador, Always a Matador!”
The Accounting and Finance Department completed its 2019–20 annual financial audit with no findings or adjustments for an incredible 15th consecutive year.
|Cash and cash equivalents||796,975||2,558,908|
|Accounts receivable, net||37,549||26,101|
|Prepaid expenses and other||100,347||92,696|
|Total current assets||9,435,399||6,730,984|
|Property and equipment, net||524,116||670,003|
|Liabilities and Net Assets|
|Current portion of postretirement benefit payable||35,417||31,659|
|Total current liabilities||1,543,020||1,293,185|
|Commitments and contingencies||–||–|
|Postretirement benefit payable, net of current portion||3,149,728||3,495,735|
|Net assets, without donor restrictions||5,266,767||2,612,067|
|Total liabilities and net assets||9,959,515||7,400,987|
|Student activity fees||14,614,076||15,835,020|
|Recreation center income||84,777||483,772|
|Total operating revenues||15,911,547||17,711,497|
|General and administrative||4,036,557||4,465,481|
|Total operating expenses||13,849,397||16,293,142|
|Change in net assets from operating activities||2,062,150||1,418,355|
|Nonoperating (expense) revenue|
|Other components of net postretirement benefit cost||(150,984)||(114,272)|
|Postretirement changes other than net postretirement benefit cost||662,058||(577,426)|
|Loss on disposal of property and equipment||–||2,965|
|Net nonoperating (expense) revenue||592,550||(602,682)|
|Change in net assets||2,654,700||815,673|
|Net assets, beginning||2,612,067||1,796,394|
|Net assets, end||5,266,767||2,612,067|