Since California State Teacher's College was located on a small campus, a search began in 1930 for additional space to accommodate activities which could not be carried out satisfactorily on the restricted campus. The Women's Athletic Association set out to earn money to build or purchase a cabin that would be used for overnight hikes, weekends or any other purpose suited for women's activities.
Accordingly, the organization sponsored the W.A.A. Bazaar. This Bazaar took much the form of a county fair. It was planned far in advance and created a great deal of interest. Booths were set up and the activities continued for two or three days. The students paid an admission fee to the various booths and purchased articles that were for sale. Over a period of time,the W.A.A. accumulated close to $2000.
The Thomas Lilly Farm, a tract of approximately 82 acres, containing two large, stone buildings, was available for purchase. This had once been a flourishing farm property in the area of California and was located less than two miles from the campus. The farm could be bought for $5000. In order to make the purchase, the W.A.A. funds were used as a down payment. A mortgage was taken for the balance. It was considered best to develop a corporation in order to facilitate and to manage this property. The non-profit corporation known as the Student Activity Association was formed in 1937. This provided as incorporators, the president of the Board of Trustees, the president of the college, three members chosen from the Women's Athletic Association and two members of the general student body. This non-profit corporation was able to receive gifts for the improvement of the property or the retiring of the mortgage. The Student Congress and other organizations turned over the unused balances of the accounts to the corporation at the end of the year. In addition, there were a number of "dead" accounts that existed in the banks of California, leaving balances in the accounts of defunct organizations, class councils and others whose books had been lost or the officers did not provide suitable records for turning over balances to succeeding treasurers. Many of these accounts were of long standing and about to be escheat to the State Treasury. Under the new system of unified direction of activities, Student Congress approved to put all accounts into one single account and deposits made through the business office. The defunct accounts were made available to the corporation and applied to the mortgage. The college bookstore also contributed grants to the corporation. The farm was under the general direction of the original incorporators. The mortgage was paid and improvements were made. Over the years the Student Activities Association expanded to encompass all student organizations and activities. It was responsible for not only the college farm but for all college clubs and campus programs, the campus radio station, WVCS, the California Times newspaper and special events. These increased functions and responsibilities brought about a need for a central facility that would be operated by the association. The board of directors, recognizing this need, worked with the college president and board of trustees to make arrangements with the state to build a student center on the campus. Under the terms of this agreement, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was to erect and to maintain the 42,000 sq. ft. building. In return, each student would pay a ten dollar building fee each semester.
The California Memorial Union was completed in 1971 and dedicated to those who had contributed to the "intellectual, cultural, social and aesthetic growth of the community." In 1979, forty-two years after its inception, the corporation changed its name to the Student Association Incorporated (SAI).
In the early to mid 1980's the university was feeling the effects of a fitness craze that was sweeping the nation. The demand for additional recreation and fitness facilities rose dramatically. The student body approved the use of $500,000 of the Student Association's capital base to renovate the Herron Gymnasium into a fitness center. The student body further agreed to pay a fifteen dollar fitness center fee each semester. This fee would be used to repay the Student Association and to cover operating costs of the center. In 1986, the Student Association opened the Herron Recreation & Fitness Center. The center featured racquetball courts, weight lifting equipment, Keiser equipment, an aerobic room, a stationary bike room, swimming pool, a basketball court, volleyball court, whirlpool and steam room, men and women's saunas, along with a professional health and fitness staff. The center also included the Patio Restaurant which featured a "green house" and outdoor seating.
In 1986, The Student Association renamed the college farm the George H. Roadman Park in honor of the former California State College president from 1968-1976. In 1987, the Student Association celebrated its fiftieth anniversary and rededicated itself to the "intellectual, cultural, social and aesthetic growth of the university and surrounding communities".
In 1988, the Student Association purchased a 10 acre tract of land adjacent to the Roadman Park at a cost of $55,000. A long range Roadman Park development plan was adopted by the board of directors. This plan calls for additional playing and practice fields, distribution of water throughout the complex, additional restroom facilities and the renovation of a circa 1875 stone ham into an activities center.
From 1971 to 1988, the Student Activities Association continued to grow and expand. Auxiliary services such as food service, laundry service, vending machines, pay telephone; Channel CAPTIVE; the Fayette County Head Start Program; and computer sales, became the responsibility of the association. Increased emphasis on Greek affairs, commuter services and off campus housing also contributed to the association's rapid growth. These increased functions and responsibilities along with a steady increase in enrollment brought about a need for additional space in the student union. The Vice President for Student Development and Services, recognizing this need, established a planning committee to study the feasibility of expanding the student union. The results of the feasibility study confirmed the need for additional space in the student union.
In 1989, the student body approved to proceed with an $8,000,000 student union addition. The plan was also approved by the SAI Board of Directors, Student Congress, the Board of Trustees, Commuter Council, the Graduate Student Association, the Inter-Residence Hall Council and other student groups.
Under the terms of this agreement, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania erected a 42,000 sq. ft. addition. In return, each student will pay an additional sixty-five dollar building fee each semester. Grand opening was Fall of 1992.
The award-winning Elmo Natali Student Center offers the Cal U Student Bookstore, the Washington Food Court, the Vulcan Movie Theatre, and meeting and recreational spaces. The Student Center houses a number of organizational office that you should get to know.
The effectiveness of the organization is beyond question. California's Student Association, Inc., was the first of its kind in the nation. Several of our sister institutions have used our Student Association, Inc. as a model when organizing their own student activities divisions.