As a result of this year’s student group space allocations, a number of rooms in the Student Center and Walker Memorial have been marked as spaces that could “be allocated in more creative ways to better serve the student group community,” according to the Association of Student Activities.
ASA President James R. Peacock IV ’08 said the ASA wanted input from the general body on whether some student spaces were being used efficiently or appropriately. “These spaces may not be touched or reallocated at all,” Peacock said. “We just want to get a conversation started on whether we are using space as best we can.”
A town hall meeting will be set up for January or the spring to have these discussions, Peacock said. Until then, the marked spaces are allocated as stated in the ASA’s initial allocations, completed Nov. 28.
“We walked through every room,” Peacock said. “From that, we could say that some groups were doing excellent and some could be doing better. … If spaces were used well and were reasonably full, they stayed as is. A lot on the fourth floor of the Student Center was completely unchanged.”
Spaces marked by the ASA for future review include rooms occupied by Alpha Phi Omega, Counterpoint, the Lecture Series Committee, the Logarhythms, MIT Resonance, Rune, The Tech, Technique Yearbook, UHF Repeater Association, the MIT Undergraduate Research Journal, and WMBR Radio.
“We are slightly upset. We do make use of this space,” APO President Mandie D. Holmes ’08 said. The APO office, located on the fourth floor of the Student Center, was one of the rooms marked by the ASA for more discussion. Holmes added that there are security concerns that come with sharing student group space.
“The space allocated to student groups in W20 is not enough space for student groups,” Holmes said. “MIT should work to find more space, because there just isn’t enough.”
According to Peacock, of the 120 student groups that requested space by the Nov. 14 town hall meeting this year, all but five asked for space in the Student Center. “That was not going to happen,” Peacock said. “We have nowhere near that much space.”
“There is a ton of space in Walker,” Peacock added. “How do we get people to want to use it and use it well?”
According to Peacock, students at an ASA town hall meeting a few weeks ago expressed concerns with the safety in and around Walker. There are generally more people around the Student Center. Students also wanted improvements to Walker, including better fountains, lighting, and working elevators.
“We can’t get money put in unless people use the space,” Peacock said. “A lot of [improvements] don’t happen because groups aren’t using it, but students aren’t using it because it’s run down.”
Phillip J. Walsh, director of the Campus Activities Complex, said it was understandable that student groups want to be in the Student Center since it is a newer building. Walker is a “beautiful building and was the center of student life for many years,” Walsh said. “But it is in need of substantial renovation.”
Renovation of Walker Memorial could very easily cost $50–60 million, Walsh said. The CAC is moving things forward, and renovations will happen eventually, he added.
In the meantime, Walsh said the CAC was trying to improve the conditions in Walker Memorial. One CAC manager, Kerri A. Mills, was relocated to Walker to work with the student groups located there. Additionally, lounges and furniture have been added, and the renovated Pritchett Hall can be used as an event site.
According to the ASA, this year’s round of space allocations saw an increase in the need for student group storage space. A three-room “general storage” area was created, consisting of W20-437, W20-441, and 50-306, which will accommodate the storage requests of approximately 50 groups.
This year’s initial ASA space allocations are located at http://web.mit.edu/asa/resources/office-space-alloc.html. Appeals were due last Friday and are currently being processed. Peacock said appeals results will be released before the winter break.
ASA revises allocation policy
The space allocation policy was revised by the ASA executive board a few weeks before allocations were made. (The space allocation policy is available at http://web.mit.edu/asa/rules/space-alloc-policy.html.) A revised version was presented to student groups at the Nov. 14 ASA town hall meeting.
Changes, according to Peacock, include the removal of hard deadlines and precise, highly specific rules to allow for future flexibility and the removal of the requirement to have someone from the dean’s office included in the allocation process. “We’ve never done this with someone in the dean’s office,” Peacock said.
One major change was made in the appeals process. Previously, student groups made appeals to the ASA twice, once in regard to tiered lists of groups, which indicate the priorities for allocations, and once in regards to the allocations themselves. This double appeals process made allocations “extremely difficult to do in one semester,” Peacock said.
With this revision, the tiered lists were removed, though the ASA still has internal tiering to keep track of priorities, Peacock said. Student groups will now only appeal the initial allocations. Removing the tiered list was “just taking out a step that was slowing the process down.”
Additionally, the section on the philosophy that governs space allocations was moved to the top of the policies, and a paragraph was added stating that it is the responsibility of the ASA to see that allocations happen in a timely manner.
Part of the Nov. 14 town hall meeting was devoted to discussing what the philosophy of space allocations should be.