The New Heart of Campus

The University Student Union Presents

Project Background

In 2016, the Students of Color Coalition presented recommendations to campus leadership for cultivating, protecting and celebrating diversity at California State University, Northridge. Their suggestions included opening a cross-cultural center as a cooperative space for student leaders to develop programs and services for Matadors of all backgrounds.

Student input obtained through surveys, focus groups and open houses throughout the past three years has indicated support for the establishment of new and updated collaborative student spaces on the CSUN campus. The New Heart of Campus project aims to meet this need by providing comfortable indoor and outdoor spaces for studying and lounging, enhanced dining options, games and entertainment area, a center devote to unity, race, intersectionality, social and environmental justice and much more. This beautiful combination of new construction and renovated facilities in the University Student Union is intended to be the new center of student life at CSUN.

The New Heart of Campus is presented by the student leaders who brought you the Student Recreation Center, Oasis Wellness Center, Pride Center, Veterans Resource Center and other services provided at the USU. These students have been working tirelessly to develop innovative offerings that will enhance the CSUN campus experience for generations to come.

Your voice can make a difference for all Matadors. Please vote in the USU Student Referendum on Wednesday, May 1 and Thursday, May 2.

USU Student Open House 2018
USU Student Open House 2018
USU Student Open House 2018

Historical Project Timeline

In 2016, the University Student Union retained the services of Brailsford & Dunlavey (B&D) (facility planning firm) to conduct an initial Master Plan of the USU. The Master Plan helped to identify the USU’s vision for the future and gauge student interest in the potential expansion and renovation to the USU. In 2017, LPA Architects joined the effort to help define the program for an enhanced USU. In 2018, B&D concluded its feasibility study regarding a potential renovation and expansion with the following results from the overall process:

  • In 2016, over 8,000 students were engaged through online campus surveys and focus groups to quantify existing facility usage patterns, desired activities, space demands, and fee tolerance.
  • In 2018, an additional 4,800 students participated in an online campus survey and multiple focus groups to update and compare findings from the 2016 research.
  • The development of concepts for enhancements to the USU was based on the growing demand by students for a center dedicated to unity, race, intersectionality, social and environmental justice, lounge spaces, student services, dining options, as well as indoor & outdoor seating.
  • Based on results from the additional surveys and focus groups, the initial proposed fee increase was reduced by more than half to a level that reflects what students felt provided the greatest value for this type of investment.
  • A financial model was also developed to illustrate the long-term feasibility of the project.

Focus Group/Survey Results*

  • Focus groups with students showed an interest in creating a centralized hub of student resources and cultural centers on campus.
  • Survey results showed that 52% of respondents are Very Likely or Somewhat Likely to support a student fee increase as proposed to fund the renovation and expansion.
  • Generally, students said they would support the project because improvements would greatly enhance student life, would increase opportunities for student employment and they liked the new spaces that would be added to the USU.
  • The data revealed that with a renovated and expanded USU, the average number of visits per week and time spent in the USU by students would nearly double, naturally creating a more vibrant space.
  • The top five program elements students were most interested in for a renovation and expansion to the USU were: increased lounge spaces (61%), increased study spaces (49%), outdoor shaded seating (40%), expanded food options (33%) and collaborative learning spaces (31%).

Top Five Program Elements Students Were Most Interested In

  • Increased Lounge Spaces: 61%
  • Increased Study Spaces: 49%
  • Outdoor Shaded Seating: 40%
  • Expanded Food Options: 33%
  • Collaborative Learning Spaces: 31%

Past USU Projects and Referendums

USU Sol Center USU Sol Center

USU ReNEWvation: Sol Center & Renovations Referendum

In 1999, 77% of student voters approved extensive renovations to the University Student Union by passing the USU ReNEWvation referendum. These renovations included both improvements to existing spaces and large-scale new constructions that offered valuable new services to CSUN students, clubs and organizations.

Renovations included:

  • Greekbox Embroidery & Clothing Store
  • Outdoor Performance Venue
  • The Pub Sports Grill
  • Performing Arts Center entrance, staircase and restrooms
  • Sam’s Clothing Store
  • Subway

The following spaces were newly constructed:

  • Associated Students Ticket Office
  • Computer Lab
  • Digital One Hour Photo Supply & Processing Store
  • Freudian Sip
  • Mercantile Exchange Convenience Store
  • Sol Center (including the Matador Involvement Center, TV lounge, meeting and conference rooms, study rooms and more)
  • Wells Fargo

The approval of this $15.2 million project came with a student fee increase of $35 per semester. During the 2017-2018 academic year, more than half of all CSUN students utilized the Computer Lab and the Sol Center welcomed hundreds of visitors each day. 


Student Recreation Center Student Recreation Center

RECognize Your Choice: Student Recreation Center Referendum

In April 2007, 57% of student voters passed the RECognize Your Choice referendum to build a student recreation center on campus. This project intended to expand the recreation, health and wellness activities provided at CSUN. 

The resulting Student Recreation Center is approximately 283,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space and provides its members with an exceptional variety of exercise and leisure activities. The environmentally friendly facilities offer state-of-the-art equipment, cutting-edge classes and a friendly staff of both student and professional employees. 

Construction of the $62.4 million Student Recreation Center began in December 2009 and concluded in December 2011. The facility officially opened on Jan. 26, 2012 with an initial fee increase of $130 per semester. Today, the SRC serves an average of 4,000 visitors daily.


USU Oasis Wellness Center under construction USU Oasis Wellness Center

Oasis Wellness Center Project

The Oasis Wellness Center of the University Student Union is a welcoming destination where CSUN students can find serenity and relaxation amid the rush and activity of campus life. Located in the USU below the Computer Lab and next to the Plaza Pool, the Oasis features a wide range of programs intended to promote student academic success.

The $5.4 million Oasis Wellness Center Project was funded by the University Student Union’s cash reserves. Construction began in December 2014 and the facility opened to students on Aug. 24, 2015. 

During the 2017–2018 academic year, the Oasis Wellness Center provided over 1,000 free health and wellness workshops.