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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Students Wary of Club Space

The new space for campus clubs and student centers, located on the third floor of the Campus Center, is generating mixed reviews from student organization members.

Last spring student centers and clubs started moving from the fourth floor of Wheatley Hall to their new space, which consists of six wall units and three large conference rooms, as well as an open area and some administrative offices. There are currently nine existing student centers, which are permanent and constitutionally student-run organizations, all occupying the new space. Six of the student centers have designated wall units, while the other three have set up workspaces in the open area. According to Jain Rudivich-Higgins, director of Student Life, the goal of the building’s design was to facilitate interaction between the groups and help to build a better sense of community. But the new space has caused tension among some of the students because of the lack of privacy provided by the open-area design. Some student center members preferred the enclosed rooms of their previous offices in Wheatley Hall. “Sometimes we deal with issues where people need to talk in privacy,” said Hermelyn Latouche, staff assistant of the Black Student Center. The Black Student Center is one of the three student centers, along with Advocacy Resource for Modern Survival (ARMS) and the Women’s Center, that have set up cubicle-like work areas in the middle of the new space. In order for members to have a private meeting, they have to book one of the three conference rooms in the area. Natalia Cooper, coordinator of the Women’s Center, agreed that a lack of privacy is a concern in the new space. “It is easier when you can just close a door to gain some privacy. Rather than having to reserve a conference room, you just deal with a problem then and there,” Cooper said.

There are also concerns about safety and security. Cooper, like many other student center members, has also experienced issues of theft, as her wallet was recently stolen from her desk in the Women’s Center. But Cooper is not entirely dissatisfied with the design of the new area. She said that she believes the goal of building a better sense of community among the groups is being accomplished. Several of the student centers are happy to have moved on from Wheatley Hall. Brandon Goreham, coordinator of the Queer Student Center, has adjusted well to the new setting. “It’s better,” Goreham said. “It’s cleaner, busier, more comfortable, has a good view of the campus, and there is a lot more interaction.” Like Goreham, Louis Colon, coordinator of the Veteran’s Center, said that although it was hard to adjust to a smaller and more open space, it turns out to be better than the Wheatley Hall space. “Privacy is key, but we’ve dealt with it,” Colon said. “The conference rooms are awesome, and everything is more accessible from the Campus Center. We’re also more accessible to the students in the Campus Center. It’s easier to reach out to people now.” Cam Phong is a former coordinator of the Asian student center and now assists in the activities of various student centers. She recognized the concerns of Student Center members over privacy issues, but also saw the need for interaction among the groups.

“Student centers are sometimes like support groups,” Phong said. “They deal with confidential issues. But most of the time, all three conference rooms are occupied, so it’s hard to talk in privacy.” But Phong believes the Student Centers will eventually adjust to the new setting. “Now there are conflicts, but everyone just needs to adapt to the new environment,” she said. Bob Cole, the assistant director of Student Life who is charge of all the clubs and centers, is working on a resolution for privacy issues. “We have a plan in place to restructure the area, possibly as soon as winter break,” Cole said. Although some of the students disagree on whether the new space is adequate for all of the student centers, it is clear that it will not be easy to resolve the conflict. Most of the students agreed that restructuring the entire area was not likely, and probably a solution will involve little restructuring if any. For now, the Students Centers are coexisting as peacefully as possible, and it appears that learning to adjust to the new setting may be the only plausible solution to the conflict.