ASA Allocation Plan Not Yet FinalBy Kelley Rivoire
The Association of Student Activities has not yet released the final office space reallocations for student groups in the Student Center since posting a preliminary announcement on the ASA Web site in early December.
ASA Graduate Member at Large Andrew R. Menard G said that the delay was caused by complications with gaining approval and funding for Student Center renovations.
Delays unexpected by ASA
This is the first time in 18 years that the ASA has proposed renovations to the Student Center, so the length of the approval process and the extensive bureaucracy involved came as a surprise, Menard said.
However, Director of the Campus Activities Complex Phillip J. Walsh said that this time lag is typical for such projects. “This has moved along fairly well from a time standpoint,” Walsh said.
The ASA has assigned student groups to different categories and assigned priority levels to them. The space will be reallocated depending on how the renovations proceed and the priority level of each group.
Sci-Fi library move put on hold
One plan proposed by the ASA was to move the MIT Science Fiction Society (MITSFS) library, currently on the fourth floor of the Student Center, to a larger space. This would require modification of the new space to make one continuous large space.
Menard, who is a keyholder for the library, said that the estimated the price for the move and renovations was $35,000. He said, however, that Walsh informed the ASA that the library move was large enough to require other renovations to modernize the fourth floor of the Student Center to satisfy building safety requirements. These changes would make “the price tag balloon” to several hundred thousand dollars, Menard said.
Walsh said that while made with good intentions, the ASA plan did not anticipate these necessary changes in infrastructure. These would include fire safety, ventilation, preservation of materials in the library, and updated shelving for the roughly 50,000 books contained in the library. The ASA proposal, Walsh said, “didn’t address these concerns.”
Walsh said that he would work with the ASA on future, long-term plans to renovate the Student Center, but that the possibility of putting through proposed plans for the library would be also depend on feedback from the Division of Student Life and the Committee for the Review of Space Planning (CRSP).
Menard said that the ASA hopes to lobby CRSP for the library renovations, but a move, if approved, would not occur for at least a year.
However, he said he thinks funding by CRSP is unlikely, because these renovations “don’t really have to be done.”
MITSFS President Edward A. Keyes G said his group has been trying to put through a move and renovations for the library for more than a decade, so the recent delay is no surprise.
Keyes added that waiting was a “price we’re willing to pay to get more space” and that his group was “very understanding of the delay,” though they “would have preferred to have this settled over” the Independent Activities Period in January.
UA renovations still possible
Another part of the ASA plan for renovations created last fall includes using some of the Undergraduate Association (UA) space for other groups. This part of the proposal is still under consideration with both CAC and the Office of the Dean for Student Life, and a decision would be discussed in a meeting next week, Menard said.
These changes are anticipated to cost approximately $10,000, and Menard said CRSP approval and funding for the plan is likely because the changes, unlike the library move, would not make it necessary to update infrastructure.
Delay affects some groups’ plans
For some groups, the delay in office space notification has impacted the way the group runs.
Dramashop was given high priority for gaining space in the Student Center. The group’s vice president Maria Kamenetksa ’05 said they “would benefit a great deal from” gaining an office.
Currently, Dramashop uses what Kamenetska calls a “tiny office in the bottom of Kresge” which is crowded to the point that it is difficult for the group to fit all its officers inside. Kamenetska added that the group would like to expand its officer positions, but until Dramashop acquires more office space, it is difficult to do so.
Other groups remain relatively unaffected by the lack of a final decision.
Cross Products secretary Brittany Coulbert G said that another group currently allows Cross Products to use their space, so the delay does not affect the group although it currently does not have space.
Loai T. Na’amani G, an officer of the Lebanese Club, which could lose their office in the final decision, said that the club currently does not use their office, so it is not an area of concern.
Menard remarked that the ASA has not announced updates because they “didn’t want to confuse people,” since the ASA “didn’t know for certain what was going to happen.” The ASA hopes final decisions will be made in several weeks, he said.
Mernard said that the ASA has only received one or two inquiries from groups regarding office space.