UCLA is marking the 50th year of its Ackerman Student Union, and it turns out that former Los Angeles City Councilman Joel Wachs was instrumental in getting it built. He was a student leader who helped convince other students to levy a fee on themselves to pay for construction of the center. From UCLA Magazine:
"It was a period of UCLA growing up and maturing and becoming a full-fledged university, and the student union was an important part of that," said Joel Wachs....
Ultimately, a student referendum overwhelmingly approved a plan to raise student fees beginning in 1960 by $12 a year to repay a loan from the UC Board of Regents and revenue bonds to finance the $5-million project. The new student union would be built adjacent to the old one, near the geographical center of campus.
Assessing themselves fees was an act of generosity on the part of the students at the time. Most of them never had a chance to use the new student union themselves, as was the case with Wachs, who graduated just two months after the building opened.
"People who opposed the student union would say maybe it would be nice, but it's not more important than a library or a medical center," Wachs says of the campaign for Ackerman. "But it isn't either-or. To be a great school, you need it all."
Wachs is now president of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts in New York. He sat on the council from 1971 to 2001, representing the Valley's 2nd district, and ran for mayor three times. His papers are with the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount.