This morning, several design and construction firms will be taking a tour of Walker Memorial to evaluate the building’s potential to support MIT’s Music and Theater Arts programs. Although Campus Activities Complex Director Phillip J. Walsh has said “no decisions have been made and cannot be adequately addressed until the feasibility and assessment reviews are conducted” in regards to the project, the action of the Facilities department in hiring these architects and contractors comes as an alarm to several student groups housed in Walker.
About one-third of Walker’s space is permanently occupied by organizations. Several of these groups, such as the WMBR, the Black Student Union, the MIT Radio Society, the Graduate Student Council, and the Muddy Charles Pub hold historic ties to the building.
“There are folks that have been in that building for many years so the orientation of what they do and how they do it is very fixed in that location,” Walsh said.
The administration is meeting with these groups first as part of their evaluation in making a decision. However, Walsh states that “Because it is not feasible to meet with each and every group individually, a general community meeting is being planned for late IAP/beginning of the second term when all groups in Walker can participate.” This puts communication with groups several months behind the November timeframe that the Association of Student Activities had announced.
Several student groups have expressed concern about the situation. Reasonably so, the act of the administration hiring the contractors and architects could be taken a sign that the administration is moving forward with the plans before completely consulting the groups involved. This prompted the Graduate Student Council to call an emergency meeting this afternoon (at 3 p.m.) to discuss the situation with the other occupants of Walker.
The purpose of this GSC meeting is to be the first of several to discuss the potential implications of the Walker project and the student groups’ initial reactions. The GSC had their meeting with administrators this past week. On behalf of the GSC, GSC Vice President Gleb M. Akselrod declined to comment on the issue and GSC President Ulric J. Ferner could not be reached.
According to the ASA chair, Rebecca Krentz-Wee ’12, a few members of the ASA met with administrators on Wednesday. “We didn’t receive any particularly new news,” Krentz-Wee said. The ASA is continuing to be in contact with administrators for updates on the situation.
As of now, the fate of student groups in Walker remains uncertain. Krentz-Wee previously said that she will “continue to push for space until they take it away.”
Walsh said that CAC would be building a web site to describe and provide regular updates on the planning process.