Mar 21, 2019

Student Union turns 40

Juan Villa / The Collegian

Tuesday marked the 40th anniversary of the opening of the University Student Union (USU) at Fresno State.

Thursday night, the USU Board of Directors put on an anniversary event to recognize the importance of the building, as well as programs and leaders of the USU, including former leaders of Associated Students, Inc. (ASI).

Gary Iida, the first USU student commissioner, spoke to the crowd about the impact the building has had on the students and alumni of Fresno State.

“It’s difficult to believe that 40 years have passed since I went to school here in the 1960s,” Iida said. “The University Student Union offers a venue for students to interact with each other, and these students are having a great time.”

Sally Ramage, director of the USU, said the event showcases many historical moments of the USU.
“The Collegian was the source for much of the historical information we are displaying here tonight,” Ramage said.

One example of a historical moment that was reported from The Collegian was a story about the appearance of Robert F. Kennedy before his assassination. That event had an impact on at least one former ASI President.

“It was magic,” former ASI President Phillip Sherwood said. “It was a day of hope, it’s very nostalgic for me to look back.”

Sherwood was ASI president in 1971-1972. He earned his degree in political science and earned a doctorate from the University of Southern California. He told stories of riots after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., when he said people were beaten up and windows were broken on campus.

Juan VIlla/ The Collegian

Another past ASI president, Marvin Baxter, told stories about the transition from the old campus, which is now Fresno City College, to the current one.

He also told of tragedy and triumph during his term. After the California Polytechnic State University football team lost 22 members in a plane crash, Fresno State and Bowling Green played in the Mercy Bowl, a game that was held as a fundraiser in memory of the players who were killed.

“It was the 50th anniversary of the University when I was president here in 1962,” Baxter said. “And in four more years, it will be the centennial celebration.”

Current ASI President Graham Wahlberg said he appreciates the contributions made by former ASI presidents and the USU board of Directors, and is looking forward to making an impact of his own.

“The University Student Union is important to me because it houses ASI,” Wahlberg said.

Looking back on historical moments of the campus prompted Wahlberg to speak about what he will do for the campus community.

“Peter Frampton has been here, John Cougar Mellencamp has been here, and even Robert Kennedy gave a speech in the amphitheater,” Wahlberg said.

Looking forward to his own contributions, Wahlberg said, “We do the Madden challenge, and we will be having a screening of ‘The Dark Knight’ in the Satellite Student Union.”

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