The lack of performance space for student organizations was the topic of discussion at the Student Assembly (S.A.) meeting with Catherine Holmes, associate dean of students, and Allen Bova, director of risk management yesterday.
In discussing many factors that have contributed to the shortage of available space, Holmes cited a 1999 report “that acknowledged that solving the problem would be a long-term project for the University.”
Some of the causes of the problem, according to Holmes, are the cost of available space, competition between student groups, the loss of space in major venues due to renovations, and overall limited availability of such places on campus.
“We are very concerned about dwindling resources because of renovations and upkeep,” Holmes said. “The picture is bleak at best.”
Holmes gave several examples, including Rand Hall and Kaufman Auditorium, which had been used for performance space in the past, but after renovations is now used only as a classroom. Because both Statler Auditorium and Bailey Hall will be undergoing renovations next year, space will be even harder to find. After the restoration, Bailey Hall will be reduced to 1,500 seats compared to its previous 1,800.
According to Holmes, the largest facility on campus next year will be in Kennedy Hall, and that space is not open to social events for students.
Holmes believes that one major problem in finding space is that certain venues exclude groups that are not affiliated with a particular college or have misused facilities in the past.
“Sometimes, organizations actually do damage to the facilities they are using,” Holmes said.
Holmes added that because some groups refuse to pay for damages, some venues have barred one or all groups from accessing their space.
“Units and colleges and departments can be a little territorial about their space,” Holmes said.
The James Law Auditorium, for examle, is open only to veterinary students.
S.A. members expressed concern over the affect allocation of facilities within the colleges will have on university-wide groups.
“One thing that concerns me the most is how some departments are so inept at listening to student organizations,” said Michael Matly ’03, vice president of public relations.
Matly suggested establishing a board in which members could address grievances from student groups who are unable to secure a space.
“That sort of mentality is not going to change just because student services says so,” Holmes said. “I don’t think it can happen without leadership from top officials in the Administration.”
Holmes also addressed the high cost of renting facilities. Statler Auditorium, for exapmple, has raised its prices twice in the past two years.
“Groups felt that they were being priced out. They wanted to use a facility but they just couldn’t afford it,” Holmes said.
Another concern was the growing number of student organizations on campus. Between 1999 and 2001, the number of registered groups increased from 350 to 550. Now, according to Holmes, that number is almost 700. These new groups are “competing for less venues and funds that aren’t adequate for their demand.”
One option Holmes and Bova suggested is using facilities off campus. However, according to Bova, this creates other problems, such as insurance and transportation issues that greatly increase costs. There have also been difficulties in reaching various contact people for venues and dealing with the different policies of spaces off cam