The New Heart of Campus

The University Student Union Presents

Frequently Asked Questions

Cost/Finance questions:

What is the cost of this project and what am I getting for my money?

The University Student Union (USU) is proposing a renovation and expansion project that will include the construction of a new 79,800 square foot facility and 49,900 square feet of renovated space. The new facility will include increased lounge and study spaces, outdoor shaded seating, enhanced food options, event and meeting spaces, entertainment & gaming spaces and a Center for unity, race, intersectionality, social and environmental justice. The renovation will include updating USU indoor and outdoor areas, meeting rooms, lounge and study spaces, and will enhance the student experience by centralizing student services and improving clubs and organizations’ spaces. This new heart of the campus will have a positive impact on student success and enhance the quality of life on campus for students.

The increased fee will not take effect until the year the building is expected to be open and operational. It is anticipated that the facility will be open for use in 2022–23. The fee would increase $125 per semester beginning in the fall of 2022. During the summer months, enrolled students are assessed 60% of the prior spring USU fee. The fee increase noted above is in addition to the projected 2022–23 USU fee of $316 per semester for fall and spring and $190 for the summer. Beginning in 2023–24, the USU fee will be increased $3 annually each fall semester to address inflation, with the resulting 60% calculation applied to summer.

How is this new renovation going to be financed?

Before the collection of any new student fee dollars for the project, all projected costs take into account an upfront contribution amount of $24 million by the USU. The contribution amount is intended to lessen the overall cost impact and fee burden to students. The total cost of the project is $130 million prior to the $24 million contribution amount by the USU. The fee increases noted below are in addition to the projected 2022–23 USU fee of $316 per semester for fall and spring and $190 for the summer.

 Summer FeeFall FeeSpring Fee

The fee of $125 will begin in the academic year of 2022–23. It’s anticipated that the facility will be open for use in 2022–23. Beginning in 2023–24, the fee will be increased by $3 annually each fall semester to address inflation, with the resulting 60% calculation applied to summer.

Why can't the money for this project go toward academics or parking issues?

The University Student Union is a nonprofit corporation and campus auxiliary that operates independently of CSUN’s Academic and Parking resources.

Will there be an additional cost for the facilities beyond the $125 student fee increase?

Beginning in 2023–24, the USU fee will be increased $3 annually each fall semester to address inflation, with the resulting 60% calculation applied to summer.

Why do students have to pay for this project? Can't the USU/CSUN use the money they get from existing student fees?

Before the collection of any new student fees for the projects, the University Student Union (USU) will make an upfront contribution of $24 million. As a CSUN auxiliary, the USU operates primarily from USU student fees (85% of the budget) and another 15% from user fees and generated funds. Current fees support services, employment opportunities and programming that are now available to CSUN students. If referendum passes, fees collected from this project will fund more student employment, enhance the experience of students, and improve the quality of life for generations to come.

How will the student fee increase be handled with Financial Aid?

Financial Aid will cover fee increases in most cases. Student who receive Cal Grant B Access will have the fee increase automatically covered.

Why is it important to fund these new buildings when student loans and the financial state of our students is so detrimental?

The USU is a nonprofit corporation and an auxiliary of the campus that operates financially independent from CSUN. The USU operates primarily from USU fees (85% of the budget) and we generate another 15% from user fees and generated funds. As previously noted, the USU can only be used to support student union services and cannot be used to support academics or other non-student union programs and facilities. The USU Board of Directors (which is comprised primarily of students) and various work teams which all have student members have been working on this project since 2016. Additionally, students on the campus have been involved through focus groups, campus wide surveys, an open house and various meetings and visits to other campuses to better understand CSUN students’ needs. 

Construction/Renovation/Access questions:

When will construction start and when will the new facility be open for use?

It is anticipated that demolition and construction will begin during Spring 2020, and the new facility will open for use during the 2022–2023 academic year.

Where will the new facility be located?

The new construction will replace the antiquated Northridge Center Complex, including AS Ticket Office, DREAM Center, USU Reservations & Event Services Office and International & Exchange Student Center, while the renovations will include several USU structures.

All the departments and programs that currently have space in the USU will continue to have space in the future.

Project Scope | Summary: New Expansion: 78,00 sq. ft. - Social & Study Spaces, Food & Dining Options, Entertainment & Games, U-RISE (Unity in Race, Intersectionality, Social and Environmental Justice) Center, Northridge Center Replacement, Meeting Rooms; Renovation - 49,900 sq. ft.: Services & Support, Meeting Rooms, Relocate International and Exchange Student Center

Construction would extend from the Plaza del Sol to the East Conference Center.

How big is the new facility? Square footage?

The University Student Union (USU) is proposing a renovation and expansion project that will include the construction of a new three-story 79,800 square foot facility and 49,900 square feet of renovated space.

What will happen to the current USU facilities on the proposed building site?

Current USU facilities on the proposed building site would be demolished to make room for the new facility. Tenants currently residing in the affected areas would either be temporarily relocated during construction or moved to a new permanent location.

All the departments and programs that currently have space in the USU will continue to have space in the future.

Will I still be able to access the USU during construction?

Yes. The University Student Union will still be operating as normal during construction with limited access to areas under construction.

Will construction block any other parts of campus?

Construction will be confined within the USU complex only. There will be a construction fence around the perimeter of the project, but access will be available to unaffected areas of the USU during most of the construction. Every effort will be made to minimize the impact to campus operations during construction. At times, access might be restricted due to deliveries or necessary infrastructure work throughout the USU complex. 

Will I have the same access to the new facility as I do now to the USU?

The University Student Union is open to the public, however limited accessibility in controlled spaces may change from location to location similar to current USU facilities.

What specific work is being done to the renovated facilities?

All current programs within the USU will continue to have space; no current programs will be removed from the USU.

The location of all current programs will be assessed to better understand if:

  • Major facility repairs are needed to address current or preventative maintenance needs 
  • The current space is meeting student needs and demands
  • Another location within the USU that could better serve the operational and programmatic needs of students

Following the assessment of each area, a collaborative planning and design process will take place to determine what specific work will be done in the renovated facilities.

Student Driven/Involvement questions:

How can students get involved with this project?

Students can get involved in a variety of ways. Visit our Get Involved page to send us a message and see how you can join the New Heart of Campus Team.

What kind of services and features will be included in the new facility?

Proposed features of this state-of-the-art and environmentally friendly facility include:

  • Enhanced dining options with exciting new offerings alongside established favorites.
  • A games and entertainment area with new fun options for Matadors to enjoy on campus.
  • Fully-equipped and flexible event and meeting spaces for utilization by all student clubs and organizations.
  • Comfortable lounge spaces that flow seamlessly between the indoors and outdoors.
  • A Center for unity in race, intersectionality, social and environmental justice.
  • Expanded USU walkway (i.e., Main street through the USU’s complex).
  • New shaded outdoor seating spaces.
  • Enhanced programmable event spaces.
  • Integrated plaza area with indoor and outdoor features.
  • More quick and convenient places to charge smart device.
  • Renovated student clubs and organizations offices and areas.

How was the student voice involved in the decision making?

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 New Heart of Campus project aims to meet this need by providing comfortable spaces for studying and lounging, enhanced dining options, games and entertainment, a center for unity, race, intersectionality, social and environmental justice and more in a brand-new, three-story structure housed within the University Student Union.

How will this new facility and renovations improve student lives on a daily basis?

Universities across the country are realizing the importance of the student union’s role in developing community, enhancing the quality of life for students, and creating a sense of belonging and connectedness that ultimately contributes to student success.

The mission of the University Student Union 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 proposed renovation & expansion project is intended to create a modern, culturally inclusive and sustainable facility for Matadors where connections with people, programs, nature, and flexible spaces will deepen their CSUN Experience. This innovative environment will celebrate a diversity of cultures and enhance a sense of belonging for all. Adaptable spaces will meet evolving student needs that include socialization, relaxation, employment, nourishment, wellbeing, leadership development and cross-cultural experience. The collaborative process, involving key campus stakeholders — especially students — will shape a facility and program that promotes student engagement, inclusivity, intersectionality, student learning and community building.

Will there be more student jobs related to the new facility?

The University Student Union is currently the largest employer of CSUN students on campus with approximately 400 positions. It is anticipated that the additional features provided by the new construction and renovated facilities will result in a corresponding increase in the number of student jobs at the USU.

The University Student Union is committed to student success by providing employment opportunities for CSUN students to maximize their college experience. In addition, the USU adheres to Los Angeles County employment requirements, including compensation for students that matches the required minimum wage in the City of Los Angeles.

How can I understand and maybe even change the committee’s thought process of the budget of CSUN and where the funding is going?

To get involved and understand the finances of the USU, visit the USU Board of Directors page and apply for an appointment to the Finance Committee or attend a meeting of the Finance Committee. You can also be arranged to speak with the Associate Director of Accounting and Finance or the USU Executive Director. For more information about the USU Finance Committee or on how you can apply to join the BOD committee, visit the USU Board of Directors webpage.

Environmental/Sustainable questions:

What is the environmental impact of this construction and renovation?

The design places a high value on environmentally-conscious materials, energy, and water use to be good stewards of valuable resources and to lead by example. Sustainability involves both a reduction in consumption of natural resources as well as generating clean power. The new construction adheres to high-performance standards from the start, and for the renovation, the upgrades to existing facilities will be achieving higher efficiencies of the spaces and optimizing building performance. Not only are the sustainable strategies focused on measurable performance and metrics, they are also centered on the human experience. This experiential element of sustainability addresses the value of wellness and tangible benefits. This includes ample views from occupied spaces, naturally daylit rooms, eliminating use of materials that off-gas toxic chemicals, air quality and thoughtful landscape development. On average, we spend 90% of our lives indoors. Creating healthy environments through better indoor air quality, from materials to ventilation, is imperative. The new landscaping will feature drought tolerant plantings and a state-of-the-art irrigation system for higher water-use efficiency.

How will this building contribute to CSUN sustainability efforts?

The most encompassing sustainable goal established by CSUN in 2013 is the construction requirements of a LEED-Gold rating. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. As the project currently exists, the design strategies places the project comfortably above the minimum Gold standard certification — LEED Platinum. A specific goal this project sets is optimizing the solar panel array on the roof to optimize on-site clean renewable energy that is abundant in our Southern California climate and region. The new dining experiences also offer an opportunity to provide healthy food options and manage waste responsibly through sorting and composting. Indoor and outdoor water use reduction will be achieved with high-efficiency fixtures and controls. As a requirement of LEED certification, building metering meets the university goal of improving means to measure, report and communicate energy and water consumption information to better inform operations and facilities staff when monitoring and making necessary adjustments in real-time.

Is the new building sustainable/eco-friendly?

Absolutely! Sustainability is an approach based on life-cycle analysis and investing in longevity. The response to CSUN’s specific climate and context has resulted in a tailored solution that is unique to this region. Passive sustainable strategies include locating and shaping the building to best respond to heat gain from the sun. Shading the south and west facades by overhangs and screening reduce the amount of heat entering the building on the sides that receive the most sunlight. The insulation and construction of the roof will meet standards of a “cool roof” to additionally reduce heat gain, contributing to reduction of the heat island effect. Material selections, high-performance glass and recycled content in finishes, fixtures and equipment will provide a variety of comfortable and healthy interior spaces. Rooms will be naturally lit and feature LED fixtures, reducing energy demand. Locating the expansion on the footprint of an existing building takes advantage of existing utilities, reducing materials, labor and disruption. An active sustainable strategy, the solar panel system on the roof, is a big step toward carbon-neutrality by generating on-site renewable energy and less reliance on fossil fuels.