Grand opening brings Aztecs home

Photo by Wesley Beights, Staff Photographer

Photo by Wesley Beights, Staff Photographer

by Jaclyn Palumbo

On Friday, March 7 the long-awaited grand opening ceremony of the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union took place.

The ceremony began at 4:30 p.m. in front of the union and many distinguished guests and alumni in addition to current students, faculty and staff attended.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Councilmember Marti Emerald attended. They declared March 7, 2014 Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union Day in the city of San Diego.

Faulconer, who was Associated Students President during his time at SDSU, reminisced about his time at the university.

“I’m happy that I’m able to recognize so many familiar faces here today,” Faulconer said. “Though the physical landscape of the school has changed, the people are the same.”

SDSU’s original student union was established in 1968 and called the Aztec Center. It was the first permanent student union in the California State University system.

After a 2008 student referendum, the Aztec Student Union project broke ground in 2011. The new union is the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified student union in the CSU system.

“It’s so important to come back,” class of 1980 alumni Carl Stranne said. “We used to watch Saturday Night Live at (the original union) and play football.”

Executive Director of A.S. Christina Brown as well as current and former A.S. representatives were credited in A.S. President Josh Morse’s speech.

“It is a concrete example of what can be achieved when students, administration, faculty, staff, and the community work together toward a shared goal,” Morse told the crowd.

Morse said the student union represents the culmination of years of planning and dedication.

“The word to sum up how I feel today would be ‘nostalgia’,” Morse said. “It’s great to see past A.S. leaders here. There’s so many generations of student leaders who worked to make this dream a reality.”

The grand opening for the new student union was on the 82nd birthday of SDSU’s A.S. organization.

“This extraordinary building is about community,” university president Elliot Hirshman told the crowd. “This building reflects both the vision of our students and the collective efforts of our entire university.”

Bob Shulz, the university architect who worked on the planning of the student union, was also present at the grand opening.

“Its a good feeling,” Shultz said. “After personally working on the building, being here was great.”

Vice President of Student Affairs Eric Rivera said the student union is meant to help SDSU maintain its student body.

“I know learning happens everywhere, not just in the classrooms,” Rivera said. “Having this union will create a place for diversity and provide services to help students grow.”

Associate Vice President for Student Services Reggie Blaylock said the ceremony was made more special by the large number of alumni who attended.

“Part of what I’m so proud of is seeing alumni here,” Blaylock said. “It’s exciting and humbling to see that alumni come back because it’s worth their time to.”

The ceremony was followed by a reception open to the public, including performances from various musicians and a variety of free food from the restaurants in the union.

The event was sponsored by the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System, which also recently gifted SDSU a trolley wrap featuring members of A.S.

“I really enjoyed going to school here,” Stranne said. “It’s nice to see some old friends and make new friends.”

Photo by Wesley Beights, Staff Photographer