In honor of the 100th anniversary, the PBS program Visionaries has produced a two-part documentary about college unions. Check your local PBS affiliate for showtimes, or visit http://visionaries.org/episode_listings/season_19/index.php to watch each of the four segments of the program
Please note: All stations that air the broadcast are licensed to show the series unlimited times in a two-year period, so it is likely you can view the program again even if you miss it the first time. Additionally, each member school has been provided a DVD copy.
Producing the Documentary:
Visionaries is documentary series
highlighting rarely told stories of nonprofit organizations all
around the world. It has been shown on public television since
1995. Hosted by Sam Waterston of Law and Order and Newsroom fame,
"Visionaries tells the stories of individuals dedicated to
changing the status quo in an effort to promote positive
coexistence. The documentaries seek to inspire vast audiences,
serve as catalysts for positive social change and promote
philanthropy on a global level," according to the program's
ACUI was contacted by a representative of the program seeking a proposal for the Association to be featured. After receiving the application put together by the 100th Anniversary Task Force, Visionaries said they
believed the college union had a compelling story to tell and were
looking forward to the challenge of capturing who we were, the good
we do, and the impact we have.
The task force began with a set of criteria to select the member
institutions that could best represent our story. A
conscious choice was made to focus on the program rather than the building,
and four college unions were selected for their ability to connect
to different aspects of the Role of the College Union Statement,
which would be the framework.
The first shoot was celebrating homecoming at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, a large, state research institution. Not only was
Wisconsin a founding member of the Association and the home of the
late ACUI legend Porter Butts, but the union also has a long
history of cultivating "enduring loyalty to the college" and being
a "student-centered organization."
Next, it was off to Davidson College, a small, private, liberal arts
college in North Carolina, known for its contributions to the
Association by another pioneer, C. Shaw Smith. There, the student Union Board's election party was filmed, demonstrating outcomes in
citizenship, "participatory decision making," and leadership.
The third stop was California State University–Northridge, an
ethnically diverse, mostly commuter campus, with many
first-generation college students. By showcasing the new recreation
center, Pride Center, veterans center, and plans for a wellness
center–all under the union's purview–it was demonstrated how the union
"values diversity" and represents a "well-considered plan for the
community life of the college."
The final locations was at the University of Vermont, renowned for
having the first LEED Gold certified union. There, the
union's emphasis on sustainability, local sourcing of food and
products, art, and activism was used to show how students learn "social
responsibility and values."
Every member institution will be able to use this one-hour
documentary to tell their story. The beautiful pictures of college
union colleagues doing what you do; the poignant testimonials by
the directors of each organization who spend each day living the
role of the college union; the unscripted interviews with student
employees and those who have found their home in union programming
and governing boards; the heartfelt love from alumni who recall
their stories of union involvement and how it has translated into
their lives; the praise from partnerships forged with faculty; and
the genuine support and understanding from presidents, chancellors,
and deans will leave you smiling, occasionally choked up, and
certainly compelled to share the episodes with your community.
Sam Waterston filmed his contributions to this documentary that will air in two half-hour episodes in late 2013. Each member institution will receive a copy of the show. In
addition, a web application is being developed so you can share this
story as well. As we approach the 100th anniversary in 2014, we
will finally have an evolving resource to tell our story for the
world to hear.
Updated Aug. 18, 2014