University Union

Alumni, current members ring in 50 years on SU campus

In 1962, University Union formed for one sole purpose: creating a student center on the Syracuse University campus.

Fifty years later, students and alumni alike celebrated the organization’s 50th anniversary at the Schine Student Center. Students and alumni gathered to reminisce about UU’s roots in the Panasci Lounge on Nov. 10.

“That’s why we’re all here, isn’t it?” said Rob Dekker, UU’s president during fall 2011 and spring 2012, who also compiled the organization’s history for his Capstone Project. “We wouldn’t even be here right now if it wasn’t for UU’s founders working for it.”

Dekker returned to campus for Orange Central to take part in several alumni activities, but he didn’t feel out of place hanging out at his old stomping grounds.

He laughed and joked with other alumni and current UU members, wearing a bright orange lanyard clipping a nametag around his neck. Smooth jazz played lightly from speakers overhead, and students congregated around a buffet stocked with plates crammed full of crackers and cubed cheese, steaming platters of sliders and sodas on ice.

“It’s not really weird,” Dekker said. “It’s just great to see everyone and how everything’s been going.”

But Dekker was jealous of one thing: the promotional items that were given away at the entrance. UU-themed umbrellas, T-shirts and sunglasses were there for the taking.

Dekker, who used to do promotions for UU, laughed about his promotional giveaways.

“We did more exciting things than pens, but nothing as cool as this,” he said.

Amanda Shaw, a Class of 2012 alumna who served as performing arts director at UU, thought it was tough being back, no longer part of the organization. But she said she is proud of how hard the new performing arts directors have been working and mentioned how much she felt her time spent with the organization prepared her for the real world.

“It really taught me how to work with other people,” she said. “I still keep in touch with people from UU from when I was here.”

Some current UU members, including Concerts Director Ken Consor, reflected on this fall’s highlights, including a sold-out Juice Jam that broke the organization’s ticket sales record.

Ellen King, executive director of the Office of Alumni Relations, remembered being UU’s faculty adviser when the group worked to put on the first Juice Jam concert in 2004.

“It was a very busy group, but a great group,” she said. “They really had to battle for a budget. It was a lot of work. They had to talk to the chancellor, the Department of Public Safety and the Syracuse Police Department to try to make it happen.”

King remembers it being a hot September day when Juice Jam finally took place on campus, nestling the concert in the parking lot sandwiched between Lawrinson and Sadler halls. She laughed when she remembered the concert’s headlining act: hip-hop superstar Method Man.

“Some people were concerned about it being Method Man, but a lot of people came out, and just look where it is now,” she said.

Though it was small, the evening reunion gave old and new UU members the chance to reconnect and rekindle memories.

“It’s good to see so many people back,” Consor said. “There are so many old friends here.”


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