LSC Life of the 80s

1987 Means 25 Years and a Gigantic Cake

The LSC turned 25 years old in 1987 and updated its physical profile:  adding a new west-facing solarium to the food court (which earlier had replaced a more traditional cafeteria restaurant) and dedicating a new sculpture garden.

Architectural Feats. As part of student center birthday festivities, LSC Food Services quite literally built a cake. To construct the cake, a tasty replica of the LSC, required 17 eight-pound sheet cakes and 40 pounds of whipped cream icing. End result? The masterpiece served 1,000 people.

Another architectural detail included the installation of a time capsule to be opened in 2012. Made of Lexan and approximately four-feet square, the time capsule was filled with five boxes of memorabilia from all over campus. 

Its inscription reads,  “Below this granite is a time capsule containing memorabilia of campus life in 1987. When removed in 2012, the contents of this capsule will hopefully provide future Colorado State students with an understanding and appreciation of the values, hopes, and dreams of the students of 1987.”                  

What will the time capsule reveal?   Capsule contents will be displayed on the plaza on September 26, during ’80s-’90s week of the student center’s 50th anniversary celebration.                                               

LSC: The Living Room of Campus 

A place where ideas, ideals and people come together

Establishing “place” on the ’80s-’90s CSU campus meant a lot of different things to students whose presence alone was creating greater institutional diversity.  The question for campus leaders, student affairs personnel and LSC administrators was how to create a campus environment that welcomed a changing student demographic and offered the kind of support services responsive to the needs of a more diverse student body. 

Opening up the living  room and the east wing. During the mid-to-late ’90s,  students of color approached then-President Al Yates to discuss the need for a place to hang out, a place where they could feel welcome and safe on campus. 

Up until those discussions, some of CSU’s ethnic advocacy offices Asian/Pacific American Cultural Center,  Black Student Services (now Black/African-American Cultural Center) and Native American Student Services — had rather cramped offices on the second floor of Aylesworth Hall.  Not only was Aylesworth off the beaten path, it had no real space for relaxing, studying or feeling part of the daily action of student campus life. They were separated from El Centro, which was located in the LSC, and that limited opportunities for the offices to work together. 

New digs in the east wing. Those discussions with President Yates eventually led to the formation of the advocacy cluster (since renamed Student Diversity Programs and Services). Between 1997 and ’98, the ethnic advocacy offices and the office of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Student Services were settled into brand new digs in the LSC. The Office of Women’s Programs and Studies (now called Women and Gender Advocacy Center) and the Resources for Disabled Students office continue to reside in other parts of campus.

The location of five of the seven offices in the LSC reinforced what all seven  were striving to create:  An environment in which all students feel welcome and safe, and in which students from all walks of life are offered extracurricular opportunities to grow personally and professionally through service, leadership, and additional educational and and culturally-focused opportunities.

CSU and the LSC Weather the Flood of 1997

IIn July 1997, a flash flood ripped through Fort Collins and the CSU campus without warning. Just 28 days before the start of the school year, the flood destroyed the LSC lower level including the CSU Bookstore’s entire five million dollar inventory. Offices housing more than 20 CSU student clubs and organizations, including The Rocky Mountain Collegian and KCSU — washed away. The bowling alley was gone.  

Six LSC staff were on duty that night, preparing for a summer conference group of 3,500 high school kids. Then-game room manager Connie Lane recalled,  “We were mopping up water coming in. It didn’t seem like an unusual storm, but we thought maybe the building had structural problems because water was seeping through the wall. We got a shop vac out, and we were emptying it for the third time when we saw the water blowing through the bottom panels of the doors.”

Meanwhile, then-student staff member Brian Haley was working with a snow shovel outside LSC, determined to move water away from the building’s upper west doors. “I thought I was getting ahead,” he said, “when I noticed a cardboard box floating past. Then I saw a two-by-four float past... When I saw a big trash can floating past, I knew something serious was going on.”


The sound of breaking glass confirmed Haley’s worst fears.  With no place else for the water to go, the LSC acted as a huge dam, as water pounded through windows and turned the Bookstore’s fall inventory into a pulpy mess. 

Water exited the building through lower doors, merged with runoff in the north side parking lot and headed east for the Oval, inflicting heavy damage to almost everything in its path.  Meanwhile, a separate runoff massing at the lagoon channeled into the natural drainage of Arthur Ditch, where it moved diagonally toward Morgan Library, the Eddy Building and the Education Building.

Can’t Stop Us. Campus and LSC staff rallied to overcome the damage. By the first day of classes on Aug. 25, LSC administrators and volunteers set up temporary 3,500 square-foot facilities on the  building’s second floor, featuring plywood counters and lighting provided by generators.  About 85 percent of the semester’s textbooks were repurchased and organized for distribution to students, thanks to support from universities and businesses across the country.

Student organizations respond. The flood destroyed offices housing the campus newspaper, yearbook and radio and television stations, along with all the equipment needed to make those activities function.

Once the initial shock passed, Larry Steward, Manager of student media, suggested the next step was publishing The Rocky Mountain Collegian.  “Isn’t that what newspapers do in major disasters?” he asked. 

Barely a month after the flood, the newspaper, yearbook, and radio station moved to annexes behind the Old Fort Collins High School on Remington Street (now the Center for the Arts). By August 22, The Collegian resumed publication, providing essential information to the campus community about flood recovery.

Resilience and renovation.  Within six months, the LSC Theatre, originally built in 1962, had undergone major renovation. Crews completely rebuilt the stage, which had been submerged beneath 14 feet of water.  They dismantled, reupholstered and repainted the original 440 cast iron seats and hung a new stage curtain and replaced the stage piano and carpeting. To top it off, a patient and exacting tuner restored the University’s beloved 1927 Wulitzer pipe organ. 

Equally impressive was the renovated bookstore. A reconfigured design of the same floor space increased shelving efficiency to accommodate textbook needs of 25,000 students, more than double the previous limit. A second entrance was added to speed transactions, as were wheelchair access and other features that promoted flexibility and aesthetic.

Richard Kremer, a university bookstore design consultant, expressed a highly complementary assessment, “These kinds of projects take years to complete at other universities. Colorado State should be extremely proud of its achievement because it is nothing short of amazing. This could be used as a national model for other universities undergoing similar projects.”