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CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE : Student Union Being Enlarged

Cal State Northridge students can hope to be healthier, more relaxed and better entertained in the future, thanks to an $18-million expansion of the University Student Union.

Construction of the project, scheduled for completion in August, 1994, began in December. Features will include a fitness center, German-style tavern and a 500-seat theater in three new structures next to the existing union building.

In all, the new buildings will expand the union from 107,000 square feet to about 195,000, officials said.

Dick Scott, the union’s director of operations, said the expansion is needed because the existing facility, built in 1977, was designed for 15,000 students, less than half the number the college serves today.

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“We’ve enlarged our facilities to come up with what we wanted for our student body of 31,000,” he said.

In particular, university officials hope to bring the union up to date with the needs of students in the 1990s.

In one structure, students will find a 17-station computer center along with a fitness center for weight training. This building also will feature a lounge area with a fireplace and room for 270 students, office space for the campus activities program and Associated Students, retail space, and meeting rooms.

Students will be able to relax in a rathskeller in the cellar of another building. Additional meeting rooms, expanded food service and a maintenance shop also are planned in the structure.

A new 500-seat theater with an orchestra pit and dressing rooms will be built north of the existing union. “It’s a real performance place as opposed to a multipurpose room,” Scott said.

The expansion is being paid for with student fees. Of the $57 fee students now pay, $25 goes toward paying off a 30-year, $14.2-million bond for the union’s expansion. The remaining funds for the project were left over from the construction of a satellite student union.

John Conti, a student who spends $100 a year to belong to a health spa off campus, said he is looking forward to using the fitness center. “There’s not a place on campus where students can go and work out,” he said.

Conti said he also believes the union’s new features will attract students seeking more of a college atmosphere to CSUN. “I think students want a community-type college they can go to more than a commuter-type college,” he said.

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