University weighs community space for student orgs

Student organization offices may move from private rooms on the fourth floor of the Marvin Center to a community-space system on the fifth floor of the building, if a plan spearheaded by the Center for Student Engagement is approved.

The potential new model would house most of the 400 students organizations on the fifth floor as a way to foster community and share resources.

“The University is seriously looking into this. It’s going to have ramifications for a lot of student orgs if this happens,” Dylan Pyne, chair of the Marvin Center Governing Board, said.

About 60 student organizations have offices on the fourth floor this year, leaving more than 360 orgs without a permanent home near the student hub. Some organizations, like the Student Association, have private offices, while others share their space with up to six other groups.

“I think people are willing to give up direct ownership of a space to create a system where organizations that need the resources can get them,” Pyne said.

If approved, most students orgs would share the fifth floor and reserve space when needed for meetings or office hours.

University spokeswoman Michelle Sherrard declined to provide details of the design or the University’s timeline for the plan.

“We are in discussions with student groups for the best use of the fifth floor space in the Marvin Center,” she said.

Matt Galewski, president of the Residence Hall Association, said the renovation project could transform the Marvin Center as a student hub, particularly for student groups.

Galewski said he estimated that student organization offices are unused 80 percent of the time, and could be put to better use as shared space for groups unable to secure office space.

“There is a need to foster a greater sense of community and inclusion among student organizations, most of which currently lack office space and access to resources such as printing and copying,” Galewski said.

College Democrats’ membership director Trevor McCray strongly opposed the design, citing the need for storage and meeting space in the office his group shares with the College Republicans.

McCray explained that, between the two groups, they are “holding office hours constantly” and need space to meet with members.

Aria Varasteh, a senior who represented the Student Association and the office-less German Club at the meeting, said the University doesn’t seem to have a solid plan yet, and hopes student feedback can be incorporated into the final design. He supported former Student Association presidential contender Jason Kaplan’s vision of having multiple privates offices linked by a larger conference room.

“I have no problem moving boxes up a floor as long as the University can assure me what they’re doing is going to benefit everyone,” he said. “Administrators don’t use the student offices, so at the end of the day, they have to at least listen to what we think is best for the space.”

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.