Heavy beats and the fragrant smell of grilled chicken wafted through Malcolm X Plaza Tuesday afternoon as students celebrated SF State’s 117th anniversary. The event was centered around SF State’s founding and its transformation into the school it is today.
SF State opened its doors in March 1899 as the San Francisco State Normal School, a small, women-only teaching academy on Powell Street. The school was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and reopened at Buchanan and Waller streets. After students protested against the crowded conditions, then-President Alexander Roberts persuaded the state to purchase land near Lake Merced for the construction of the campus at 19th and Holloway avenues, where the University continues to reside today.
Since its founding, the University has also undergone several name and accreditation changes, but throughout these changes remained committed to providing students with quality education, according to Ryan Jones, the assistant director of the Parents & Early Engagement program. Jones, who has planned Founders Day for the past three years, considers Founders Day to be a significant event on campus.
“It helps us have an appreciation for the history of the University,” Jones said. “What we really try to emphasize is support for the University by the University community, (which) includes faculty, staff, alumni and students.”
Part of that support emerged in the form of the student organizations that tabled at the event. Twelve student organizations tabled at the event, including Alpha Phi Alpha, whose members danced in the quad during the celebration, and the Holistic Health Network, which focused on promoting its organization.
“We try to promote our center every year,” said Kevin Mai, Holistic Health Network intern. “So it was a great opportunity to showcase to the world what kind of health practices there are out there.”
One of the goals of the student organizations was to raise money for the HOPE Fund Crisis Loan, a loan administered through the Student Affairs office that provides students with financial support in the event of a personal, unexpected crisis.
“Say a student’s house burned down,” Hermanos Unidos member Julian Jauregui said. “The school would try to help them get back on their feet by helping pay for things they need for classes.”
So far, no students have applied to the HOPE Fund, which is part of the reason why Founders Day has adopted it as this year’s cause, Jones said. The fundraising campaign, which will run into the summer, has a goal of $65,000.
“Today is a day where we emphasize student giving,” Jones said.
Hermanos Unidos is one of the organizations trying to raise money for the HOPE Fund and has participated in Founders Day in the past, specifically helping serve food. The campus eatery Taqueria Girasol gave away 1,899 root beer floats last year and 1,899 tacos the year before that. This year, Taqueria Girasol gave away tacos again, and successfully reached their goal for the third year in a row.
“I think 1,899 tacos sounds like a lot of tacos, so (that’s why) we went with that idea,” owner Marco Ballesteros said. “And we’ve been doing it for three years now, so it’s very successful.”
Founders Day started in 1999 to commemorate the 100-year anniversary, where the SF State community celebrated with 100 feet of sheet cake, but ended in 2002 for unknown reasons, according to the Alumni Association. After a 13-year lapse, the Alumni Association brought the event back as a way to increase campus spirit.
“There’s not that much of a student life on SF State,” said Andrew Mendoza, who DJed for the event. “I like anything at school that brings anyone together.”