History of the Graduate Student Commons

Timeline

    • 1965: UCSC opens and grad students begin paying a $16/quarter facilities fee that just accrues in an account.
    • 1986: Chancellor Sinsheimer provides $200,000 in Discretionary Funds towards the eventual construction of a Graduate Center.
    • 1989: Student Center opens, supported by both grad and undergrad fees --- however, negotiations to adopt a portion of the building as a Graduate Center fall through.
    • 1993: UCSC develops the Core East plan, which hopes to create a downtown-like center for the campus, which could include graduate students and a Graduate Center.
    • 1995: Graduate students begin negotiations in earnest with Core East committee to make the Graduate Student Commons a part of the project.
    • 1996: Graduate students pass a student fee referendum to supplement construction and operating costs for the GSC.
    • 1997: September: UC Regents approve Project Planning Guide and loan for construction. Programming and Building committee begins meeting with architects.
    • 1998: April: Building design completed and project put out to bid. August: Project breaks ground and construction begins.
    • 1999: September: Graduate Student Commons Planning Committee is constituted by the GSA to work out preliminary usage policies and final operating budget numbers. December: The Search Committee for the GSC Facilities Manager is constituted.
    • 2001: January The official Graduate Student Commons Governance Board is constituted by the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs. February: The GSCGB finalizes the operating budget. March: Diane Brookes is hired as the GSC's first Facilities Manager. June: Construction ends. August: The Whole Earth moves in to the ground floor. GSC opens for daytime access. September: The upper floor of the GSC opens for daytime access.
    • 2002: July: Sadly, the Whole Earth closes it's doors and the University and GSCGB begin a search for a replacement.
    • 2003: February: Joe's Pizza and Subs has been chosen to take over the restaurant space in the GSC.
    • Diane Brooks Retires Need to find out June 2013.
    • Rachel Neuman hired and replace Diane Brooks, August 1, 2013.
    • Joe's Pizza and Subs move out June 1, 2015
    • GSC Governance Board begins the search for new restaurant operator and sends out a letter for request for interest to 35 potential vendors on 6/18/15.
    • GSCGB sends a request for proposal to 5 vendors.
    • GSCGB selects Cafe Ivéta as top candidate and begins the lease contract negotiations
    • GSCGB Signs the lease with Cafe Ivéta on TBD.

Background

      The Santa Cruz campus opened in 1965. Early development centered primarily around creation of an experimental collegiate setting for undergraduate education. As a result, the graduate sector remained relatively underdeveloped, and little attention was given to the integration of graduate students into the life of the campus. With the appointment of Chancellor Robert Sinsheimer and a new Graduate Dean in 1977, the reevaluation of the role of graduate students on campus began. In 1977, the graduate population made up 6% of the campus body, and no facilities on campus were devoted solely to graduate students. On many campuses, this situation could be remedied through a student union building accessible to both graduate and undergraduate alike. However, due to the decentralized nature of the Santa Cruz campus, there was no student center at that time serving the whole of the student body. All such social and recreational facilities were focussed in the undergraduate colleges. There began a series of attempts to integrate the graduate students into the college system, primarily through annexing sections of the residence halls for graduate student use alone. However, these agreements were often unsuccessful due to undergraduate enrollment constraints, and underutilization by the graduate students. It was concluded that the college system engenders a predominantly undergraduate atmosphere, as well as further subdivision of the graduate community. In 1980, Chancellor Sinsheimer proposed a plan for a graduate student center to fulfill this need for graduate community. The plan called for a combination of limited housing opportunity with common space for lounges, study rooms, computer terminals, recreation area, and a kitchen. While this plan was not realized, it marshaled campus interests in the direction of improving graduate student life, leading ultimately to the construction of Graduate Student Housing by UCSC in 1986. Graduate Student Housing was designed specifically for graduate students, providing housing and an excellent opportunity for integration into campus and graduate life for 80 students. The advent of Graduate Student Housing supplied some of the amenities of a residential college system for some of the graduate students, however, a campus-wide facility to provide a place for all graduate students away from the boards is crucial. For the many graduate students who live off-campus, it is difficult to interact with students outside one's board of study. For the off-campus students who only have offices when they are employed as teaching assistants, it can even be hard to feel a part of one's own board. In recognition of these difficulties in 1986, Chancellor Sinsheimer provided $200,000 in Discretionary Funds towards the eventual construction of such a Graduate Center. In 1989, the Student Center was built to benefit all students, but contained little to draw graduate students. A second plan to create a graduate center was conceived, involving the acquisition and renovation of the Multi-Purpose Room of the Student Center. This new center would have created a small independent gathering space for graduate students but would have drawn heavily on the Student Center for food service and additional meeting space. This plan failed, however, due to a dispute late in the drafting stage over governance issues.

The Core East Plan

      After this set-back, interest in a graduate center remained without focus until the completion of the Long Range Development Plan and the formation of the Core East Committee in 1993. Working with the Core East Committee to develop a vibrant "downtown" for the campus, the graduate students hope to finally create a center for graduate student life. The newest plan is the Graduate Student Commons. It combines the programming of the graduate student center with the opportunities of building in the campus crossroads, in conjunction with the new Baytree Bookstore expansion. This partnership will create a heart to the campus, just as it will save on costs, time to completion and environmental impact. A special referendum held in Fall 1996 passed a new student fee that will supplement the current construction funds, and grads began meeting with the architects in early 1997.

Design and Construction

    Design plans were finished in April 1998, and the project broke ground in August 1998. Despite a few setbacks, like rain, a broken retaining wall on the Bookstore, some wet dry wall, and plumbing problems, construction was completed in June 2001. Starting in September 1999, a committee of graduate students began meeting to discuss preliminary governance and usage policies for the new building. This committee became the core of the officially constituted Graduate Student Commons Governance Board in Winter quarter 2001. It finalized the intial usage policies, filed the official operating budget, and hired Diane Brookes as the first Facilities Manager. The building officially opened for student use on August 20, 2001.