by Chris Evans
It's all about continuing the conversation. This is exactly what the Student Association intended to do with their recent formal outreach to the university administration to expand student space on campus, a top priority on the agenda for this year. According to SA President Ashwin Narla, the intent was achieved.
This fall, the SA submitted their 22-page formal proposal, which outlined 10 ways the university could grant the student body open space on campus. The proposal, entitled "Building a Sustainable Future," stated, "The Student Association examined not only existing space, but also potential areas of growth." Supported by numerous images and graphs, the proposal aims to further the conversation on student space, a pertinent issue to such a populous campus.
Narla's administration set three goals for now, three goals for November/December, and four goals for the long term benefit of the student body. He believes that by breaking the ten goals into specific categories, the SA can more easily work with the university to launch and continue the conversation. According to Narla, "We [the SA] want to not only continue the conversation on our original plans, but we want to start new conversations [on plans for the long term] now."
According to the proposal, the plans under the category "now" include developing a 24-hour schedule for all academic buildings, opening campus eateries during the weekend, and opening up the fifth floor of the Marvin Center to student organization use after hours.
Citing the increased burden of security, housekeeping, and energy use, the university did not broadly accept the three proposals. However, the university indicated a willingness to work on meeting the SA halfway, with the hope of extending hours and granting student organizations more office space. The executive board of the SA are optimistic of the university's response.
"At no point did the administration look at something and say no," Narla said. "They are open to further negotiations and are willing to continue the discussion of student space."
As a major part of the proposal, the SA launched an attempt to have all student organizations more accessible by housing their offices in one place. An automatic issue with this goal is that there are only around sixty offices on the fourth floor student organization hub, while there are over 500 student organizations. The SA's plan would require reorganizing university office space so a larger chunk of neighboring offices would be dedicated to student organizations.
The proposal indicates that this goal could likely be achieved by turning the Marvin Center third floor outdoor terrace into an indoor space (categorized as a "long term" plan in the proposal). Although the university did not embrace the idea, the SA is happy that the issue was brought into the spotlight.
Narla indicated that the initial SA proposal to remodel Gelman was not incorporated by the university for many years. Just like the Gelman proposal, the SA initially must initiate a conversation about an issue, and then work with the university to seek out common ground to build upon.
With the university's thoughts on the matter now known, the SA has a clearer understanding about what needs to be done in order to achieve the platform goal of increased student space, as well as condensed student org. locations.
Narla expressed optimism that the student space dialogue with the university will continue to meet success, noting, "As administrators, they were really receptive and have been very helpful so far."
Stay tuned to WRGW News for all future Student Association developments.