Cal State Long Beach is planning to increase student fees to pay for extensive renovations at its aging University Student Union building.

The USU, which is over 50 years old, acts as a student center and transition point between two sections of campus. It often has problems because of its “decaying” infrastructure, and temporary upgrades have only postponed a full revamp, according to the project’s website.

“Some problems I have seen are leaks in the building, not enough space to sit or study, or even just to eat,” Associated Students, Inc. President Mitali Jain said in an email.

The university hopes to expand the building’s resources and spaces and to “update and upgrade” the campus hub to make it more accessible for students, according to Taylor Buhler-Scott, ASI associate director of program and communications.

A rendering of a potential design of Cal State Long Beach’s proposed Future U Project to renovate its University Student Union. Courtesy of CSULB.

“(We hope to) provide them a space where they can feel comfortable and welcome and be able to easily navigate what it is that they need,” said Buhler-Scott.

Announced in November 2022, “The Future U Project” will renovate about 50,000 square feet of the facility, according to its website. Some proposed improvement ideas include:

  • Food services with more dining options and seating
  • More student lounge and study spaces
  • Improved “wellness” center services like programs and nap stations
  • Career center drop-in services
  • Expanded Beach Pantry and Basic Needs wing
  • Updated Beach Auditorium, ballrooms and conference rooms
  • Technological improvements including more electrical outlets
  • Improved game center and Esports arena
  • Infrastructure renovation like mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and air conditioning
  • Increased ADA accessibility
  • Potential Culture Resource Center

The project is set to break ground in summer 2026, and construction will last about two years, according to the project’s website. The USU will not be open during construction, but the university says it will offer its services in alternate locations.

The project is currently estimated to cost $235.4 million, according to Buhler-Scott. Funding will come from the mandatory student fees part of tuition, which helps operate ASI, the USU, and the Student Recreation and Wellness Center.

Those fees currently cost $220 per semester, and the USU project is expected to more than double that amount to $475 starting in 2025, according to Buhler-Scott.

The university has been doing outreach and receiving feedback from students and faculty throughout the process, and reception has been overall “positive,” said Buhler-Scott.

ASI is currently working with the campus and architecture design firm Cannon Design to conduct feasibility studies, said Buhler-Scott. She says they will try to keep students updated and give opportunities to provide feedback throughout the project’s progress. Comments can also be sent here.

CSULB’s USU renovation plans come in tandem with their master plan to expand campus housing and facilities to accommodate a growing student and faculty population. Multiple other Cal State Universities have also recently renovated their student centers or are planning to do so.

Maison Tran is a fellow at the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected].