The Student Union Building 50th Anniversary!


– [Peter Sammartino] And
other buildings began to dot the campus: University Hall, a Becton Hall at the Teaneck campus, the two student union buildings. (uplifting music) – [Narrator] For fifty years the Fairleigh Dickinson
University Student Union Building has served as the community center for all members of the campus population. It’s design team and first
administration understood that it’s not just a
building but also a program, working together to represent
a well considered plan for the community life of the university. – Student unions are deeply
rooted in campus life history. They originated in the 19th century, first as debating societies
at Oxford and Cambridge. The earliest goals of the student union were free discussion,
unity through diversity, and preparation for
leadership in public affairs. As they did in their infancy, unions today train students for the art of living. – [Narrator] Peter Sammartino,
university founder, and his wife, Sally, were
instrumental in developing extra-curricular programs for
students that would develop their cultural background
in preparation for careers. They also understood the
importance of ritual and tradition to create enduring connections
to the institution. – [Narrator] By the late
1950’s, the nature of the student union as a facility
was better understood and campuses examining the
question of centralization versus decentralization
of student services. The student commons, today
known as Alumni Hall, served as the gathering place for a
surging student population. We were moving further away from our Bergen Junior College days
and the landscape of the campus was changing aggressively. Only 10 years later, in the
late 1960’s, the student population had grown so
much it justified the need for more campus space dedicated
to housing and student life. An eight building residential
complex was designed with the current Student Union building serving as the
hub of communal life. When it opened, the 1960’s
were ending and the building played host to constructive
student activism in response to national affairs. – [Narrator] Through the
decades, it’s walls were the backdrop of student’s
practicing self-discovery through the governance of
the building and it’s spaces. We stay true to these core competencies today through a large
student employee team and many student organizations. The adherence to the first
student union’s values as well as the Sammartino
principles are the formula that still attracts students
into it’s spaces today. – The student union operations
and programs honor the FDU tradition of hands-on,
active learning based in service to the campus
and the community. Fiscal management, marketing, technology, customer service, cultural
competency these are just some of the real life
applications presented to our student, staff, and leaders. We also integrate university
traditions, new and old, into the union curriculum, in the building and across campus with our partners. – We create life changing opportunities in the Student Union. Our future leaders of
tomorrow are prepared to work with people from different
backgrounds and explore new ideas through the structure of a welcoming
student-centered environment. Because the building is for
the students, by the students, inclusivity and life-time
learning is a priority. Largely on their terms. Our role is to empower in
the background and support them in their challenge
to achieve their best. – One value that I
really hope carries over to the new building,
is just being inclusive and accepting of everybody here. And the Student Union building
has done a really good job of doing that for the past
50 years, and I think that’s really important going
forward with just the nature of the way that the world
is changing and it’s really important to have that safe space for everyone to come and be
themselves and learn, grow and just have a really great
time while they’re at college. And have something that’s outside of the academic experience
because the involvement in it’s experience is just as important. – I felt that the best
moment was when our school was able to go into March
Madness and that was literally where our school became into one. We were all a team, we were
all supporting that team. For me it was a dream come true. I was able to travel with
the team to March Madness and to experience that in person. But even for the people
back home they felt like this school means a lot to
them and they’re not just here for the education, academics. They’re here for the teamwork and the bonding that will last them forever. – This is where all of the organizations on campus come together as one. The variety of different
programming, fundraisers, philanthropies, that take
place in this building. You have organizations that
might reserve the entire building for one event, and
it turns into a spectacle where we might have two,
three hundred students here at one time, partaking in one event. You can have new faces meeting new people. I met a lot of Sigma Pi from events here in the Student Union building. It’s where all students can
interact with each other, feel comfortable and see
and find new opportunities. This is the place to find
it, so that’s why I’m definitely excited for the future of the Student Union building. – I just love the people who work here. And giving them respect and kindness, they’ve reciprocated that and more. And they’ve helped make my
college experience here even greater and they constantly
come to me and they’re like, well how are you doing with your classes? How are you doing with
your college career? And like, what are your
plans after you graduate? It makes me nervous thinking
about it but it also lets me know that there
are people older than me who want to support me and for me to do even better than what I
originally planned for myself. So that makes me feel really good. – Peter Sammartino, founder of Fairleigh Dickinson University, once said, “People think of a university
in terms of buildings, “of numbers of students,
of complexity of curricula, “and yet it was in terms of our service “to our students and the
simplicity of our approach “that we found the greatest
meaning to our lives.” And that is why the Student Union building is so important to our community. – Tradition teachers. – Promise keepers. – [Narrator] Lifelong learners. – [Female Narrator] Creative curators of a collective FDU experience. – [Voices in Unison] We are
the Student Union at FDU. – If I had to do it over again, I just wouldn’t have the energy. – Oh yes you would, if we
could just turn back the clock. For now, we know the secret of living, and that is to create and to help others.

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