Student Center 4th floor renovation plans started
By Cliff Schmidt
Plans to renovate the Stratton Student Center's fourth floor, which includes the offices of many students activities, are finally underway, according to William Robert '90, president of the Association of Student Activities.
Fourth floor space is currently being used very inefficiently and many rooms could be rearranged to provide more room for other activities, Robert said. But "no activity that currently has space [in Stratton] will lose its space," he added.
The only consequence that the renovations will have on student activity office space, according to Robert, is that more offices will be open for more activities.
But the renovation plans have generated a number of complaints recently from student activities who do not have office space in the Student Center. The concerns raised by these activities include the degree of student involvement in the fourth floor renovations, the maintenance and future of student activity office space in Walker Memorial, and plans for the razing of Building 20.
Working with Dean for Student Affairs Shirley M. McBay and Associate Dean for Student Affairs James R. Tewhey, Robert said he plans to have the renovations take place in two phases. The first phase, which will begin this term, will involve general work on such things as the ventillation, lighting, and electrical systems. The second phase will begin early next term and will involve rearrangement of current space and the allocation of any extra space that is created.
To decide how space is to be rearranged and allocated, a client group has been assembled consisting of Phillip J. Walsh, director of the Campus Activities Complex; Victoria V. Sirianni, assistant to the director of Physical Plant, who will work with an architect; Andrew Strehle '91, vice president of the Undergraduate Association; and Robert.
The client group is inviting every student activity to express its opinion about renovations decisions, according to Strehle. He commented that everyone who approaches the client group citing a need for extra office space will be looked at equally.
"There is only so much space on the fourth floor, and so many deserving activities," Strehle said, "our decisions will be based on how well an activity plans to use the space, not on how `good' the activity has been in the past."
Strehle noted that any decision made by the client group concerning space allocation must be approved by the ASA Executive Committee, which can be appealed to by the student body.
The client group also plans to work with the student activities that currently have offices in the Student Center by deciding what logistical changes will benefit the activities, according to Robert.
Leaders of several student activities in Walker Memorial have raised questions about the status of student offices in that building. Alan Lasky G, of the Special Effects Club, Peter Rexer '91, of Pershing Rifles, and Larry Appleman G, of Voo Doo and Tool & Die, all feel that their space in Walker is not guaranteed to remain theirs.
According to ASA's Robert, student activities in Walker have no reason to fear losing their space due to any renovations conducted by the ASA.
"The only reason we would deallocate office space is if we find [during the ASA's periodic space review] that the office space is not being used anymore," Robert said.
Tewhey said he is in complete agreement with Robert concerning the possibility of student activities in Walker losing their space in the process of renovating Stratton or Walker.
As far as the future of Walker Memorial is concerned, Tewhey said that Walker's long-term future use at the moment is totally undecided.
According to Appleman, research conducted by students -- including Bryan Bradley '89 -- has given students activities in Walker cause to believe that promises made by the administration have not been kept in the past and may not be kept now.
Bradley claimed that in the past, the Office of the Dean for Student Affairs and the ASA have been gradually withdrawing office space from student activities in Walker. He questioned the fairness of ASA decisions, labeling past decisions "completely arbitrary."
The Campus Activities Complex's Walsh, who is in charge of day-to-day maintenance of Walker, said that the future use of Walker "is not an active issue right now." He noted that the future of Walker will eventually be decided at a senior level of the MIT administration.
Building 20 may
soon be demolished
One other issue that has been brought up in connection with how future renovations in general will affect student activities is the future of Building 20.
According to Bradley, Building 20 will definitely be torn down soon. There is presently some student activity office space in that building, and Bradley questioned what will happen to it if the building is torn down.
Doreen Morris, assistant to the provost, noted that the provost issued a memorandum in October 1988 calling for the eventual demolition of Building 20. And in January 1989, a space utilization document detailed how Building 20 space is currently being used. According to the document, the three student activities in Building 20 occupy two percent of the total space.
A broader-based faculty committee, Morris said, will soon be assembled to discuss, among other things, what kind of relief areas will be used for the offices that Building 20 now houses.
Bradley called for the administration to issue a guarantee to Building 20 activities assuring them that their space will not be taken away without an equivalent replacement.
In response to Bradley's request, Morris said the Provost's Office cannot make such a guarantee at this time.