November 11, 2015

Student Union Board Restricts Use of Willard Straight Hall Memorial Room

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Several student groups may no longer be able to host weekly meetings in the Memorial Room, as the Student Union Board plans to make Willard Straight Hall more accessible to other student organizations for non-meeting events.

Several of the groups affected include the Interfraternity Council, the Student Assembly and Class Councils, which may need to find new meeting spaces next semester.

“In an effort to provide greater opportunities for the growing number of student organizations to hold their events in WSH, we are trying to ensure these spaces are being used as effectively as possible,” said Kristen Crasto ’17, director of public affairs for the Student Union Board, in a Nov. 1 email to The Sun.

To “best utilize the room to its capacity and for its  specific purpose,” the Student Union Board announced new restrictions on using the Memorial Room, according to an Oct. 28 email obtained by The Sun.

“The Memorial Room is meant to serve as a programming space rather than a meeting space,” the email reads. The Student Union Board has not responded to more recent and repeated attempts for comment from The Sun and has not clarified what the new restrictions are.

Several student leaders expressed frustration with the Student Union Board’s decision, saying the restrictions should have been delivered with earlier notice and clearer justification.

Though the Student Union Board has allowed some organizations to continue meeting in the Memorial Room until the end of the semester after the groups appealed the new restrictions, it remains unclear whether the organizations can continue meeting in the Memorial Room next semester.

The history of the Memorial Room contributes significantly to the atmosphere of the IFC’s biweekly meetings, according to IFC president Connor Riser ’16. The building is named after Willard Straight 1901, a Delta Tau Delta fraternity brother. Additionally, decorative banners hung in the Memorial Room were donated by the Sigma Phi Society.

“The few times we have had to use another room due to conflicts, the meetings have had a much worse vibe,” Riser said. “It is hard to find a room that can fit all of the members of the executive board and every chapter president.”

Additionally, Riser said finding a space with a similar circular setup to that of the Memorial Room is difficult.

“While I believe the board’s intentions are in the right place, I do not understand how one of the largest student groups on campus is unable to use the room every other week for 30 to 45 minutes,” Riser said.

The board’s decision also originally displaced Class Councils meetings, in spite of the fact that the Class Councils’ office is located in Willard Straight Hall and that the Class Councils frequently hold programs in the Memorial Room.

“We were initially removed from Willard Straight Hall but following an appeal they were kind enough to let us continue our meetings,” said John Lowry ’16, president of the class of 2016.

Similarly, the S.A. has been able to negotiate with Student Union Board to keep meeting in the Memorial Room for the duration of the semester.

According to S.A. president Juliana Batista ’16, the organization spoke with the Board “to discuss the capacity and accessibility needs of the Student Assembly and the reasons why we should continue utilizing the space.”

Zach Silver contributed reporting to this story.