April 20, 2001

S.A. Discusses Space Usage in the Straight

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Students can still get some shut-eye in the Straight, for now.

The Willard Straight Hall Space Committee presented their final report before the Student Assembly (S.A.) yesterday, and the S.A. vote was nearly unanimous against the recommendations.

Assembly members questioned committee chair Kim Yeoh, associate dean of students for administration, and member Esther Tang ’04, new student representative, about plans to alter space usage in the Straight.

Yeoh explained that the report was meant to solicit feedback. “The report itself is not … set in stone,” she said.

The report recommends “changing the Browsing Library into a Social/Activity Lounge, using the current Game Room as a Student Organization Resource Center, moving most of the DOS [Office of the Dean of Students] staff to the fifth floor, moving DOS student groups to the second floor, and creating storage space for student groups in the theater backstage.”

John Ford, then the dean of students, charged Yeoh last fall with forming a committee to make recommendations on solving the problem of inadequate staff office space in WSH, as changes in DOS units have yielded thirteen new or expanded staff positions.

New Student Representative P.K. Agarwalla ’04 said that many constituents have voiced their opposition to using the library as a game and social space, saying they prefer to use the quiet space to sleep.

“A lot of students go around here sleep deprived,” Agarwalla said. “The browsing library is the only place that’s open all the time so people can do that.”

Yeoh replied that the Music Room and International Lounge would remain as quiet spaces, while the Browsing Library’s central location would provide socializing space beyond the WSH lobby.

“One of the things I’ve heard we’re really lacking is a place to hang out,” she said. “[The Browsing Library is] really in the center of the busiest floor of the student union.”

Agarwalla asked if the committee had considered moving the Browsing Library to the upstairs Game Room space, thereby switching the location of the two rooms.

“Were not just trying to move the Game Room,” Yeoh said, explaining the committee’s effort to create varied types of space and offer different services.

Minority Representative and Vice President of International Operations Tom Mendez ’03 asked how many student jobs would be lost to the renovations.

“Probably not very many, if any,” said Linda Reynolds, WSH Manager of Building Services. “It may just mean that [some] positions would be a little bit different,” including changes to job responsibilities or working locations, she said.

Lisa McNamara ’03, student personnel coordinator, spoke to the S.A. on behalf of WSH student employees, asking for a student employee to be included on the committee.

At least ten members of the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity attended the meeting to protest the reallocation of their space. The student organizations were asked how they use their office space on their application forms, Yeoh said. Also, a search found that many, although not all, organizations were using their office space for storage.

For that reason, the committee included storage cubbies for student organizations in the backstage of WSH theater as part of their recommendations.

Some student groups expressed concern that moving all staff offices to the fifth floor and Dean of Students groups to the second floor would separate the groups from their advisors.

“I really think it would be detrimental,” said Rebecca Walker ’02, president of the Panhellenic Council, adding that contact is important in fostering student-staff relationships.

Catherine Holmes, associate dean of students, said that by moving all staff to the fifth floor, the proposal aimed to ease students’ access to the staff they need.

“Maybe the greater good is something that has to be considered,” Holmes told the S.A.

The Assembly voted on whether or not to support the committee’s report in its current form, and Tang, a member of the committee, was the only student to vote in favor of the recommendations.

“We really need to know what it is you’re voting down,” Yeoh said, requesting further S.A. input.

The Assembly then approved an appropriations request for $2,000 for the Slope Fest Planning Committee’s music costs, after debating the merit of the expense.

“This is the best appropriation ever,” said Frankie Lind ’01, College of Human Ecology representative.

Slope Fest will cost approximately $75,000 this year, $23,000 of which is provided from the Student Activity Fee. The Planning Committee still has to raise $40,000.

“Between now and May [4]?” asked New Student Representative Michael Sellman ’04. “Good luck,” he added.

The request passed 15 to 3.

The Assembly then debated a resolution regarding charter changes to the S.A. Appropriations Committee.

Michael Brown ’02, undesignated at-large representative, proposed an amendment similar to one he advocated at last week’s meeting, aimed at decreasing S.A. influence on the committee.

Kira Moriah ’03, College of Arts and Sciences representative and vice president of finance, defended the resolution’s addition of one more S.A member to the Appropriations Committee.

“There are reasons that we did this. People who were on this committee last year were frustrated and they begged me to change the ratios,” Moriah said.

“The S.A. can never out-vote the community members, as long as the community members show up,” she added.

Brown’s amendment to change the number of community representatives from six to eight failed. The resolution then passed 11 to five, with one abstention.

In the last order of business, the Assembly began debating R. 49, “resolution to remove abortion coverage from the student health plan.”

The Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) covers some termination of pregnancy procedures, and is funded by the University’s general revenue fund, which is financed primarily through tuition and research grants, according to the resolution.

“Tuition the undergraduates pay is funding SHIP,” stated Mike Kalogiannis ’01, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences representative.

“We just want to know on our conscience that we’re not subsidizing other people’s abortions,” said Schloss, explaining that many grad students will receive free SHIP coverage next year, and those who disagree with SHIP abortion coverage might not be able to afford a different insurance policy.

The Assembly will continue debate on the resolution next week.

Lindsay Patross ’02 was affirmed in her office of undesignated at-large representative during the meeting. She replaces James Lamb Jr. ’03 on the S.A.

International Student Liaison Derrick Zandpour ’02 announced that the Ivy Council had elected Brown as their president for 2001-2002 during a meeting last weekend.

The S.A. will hold its internal elections for the 2001-2002 Assembly next Tuesday. The members-elect have already attended two organizational meetings to learn about their role as representatives.

Archived article by Heather Schroeder