Last Friday, student organization leaders received an email sent by Director of Campus Activities and Operations (CAO) Joan Maze on behalf of Residential Life and CAO.
The email, with the subject line “Dupre 10K is no longer a non-residential programming space,” informed org leaders that 10K, effective immediately, would no longer be “a reservable space for non-residential programming.” A shorter announcement ran in The Daily Piper on Monday and Tuesday as well.
The unanticipated Friday announcement has been met with concern from many students. From intense Facebook discussions to casual conversations, org leaders and worried students alike have voiced their displeasure. Chief among student concerns is that of transparency and the lack of student input in the ultimate decision to close 10K.
Communications surrounding the decision is complicated, with multiple student orgs having heard about the policy through the grapevine before the official announcement last Friday.
“We [Fresh Concepts] found out this summer from a friend of ours at Reservations, who said that they were told ‘we’re not supposed to let people reserve 10K anymore,’ and then we got an email from CAO at the beginning of the year — but that was the first official communication we got,” Miller Shor ’19, a Fresh Concepts member, said.
Bad Comedy, one of the orgs that has used the 10K space most consistently, had a similar experience.
“There was no official communication given to us earlier on — a couple members heard from other groups that had tried to reserve 10K, and it seems like Reservations was told much earlier than orgs,” Bad Comedy leader Logan Natvig ’17 said.
At a MCSG meeting, Community Engagement Officer Rachel Ladd ’17 agreed. “[The closure] was announced in a way that didn’t encourage student feedback,” she said.
While the decision may have been a somewhat confusing and sudden one from the student perspective, Maze explained that issues with 10K had been discussed sporadically in recent years.
“For several years there had been discussion about whether or not that space is conducive to non-residential programming, mainly because, in order to ensure access to that space, people have to enter in ways we tell students to not let people in, like ‘piggybacking’ through the door or through an unapproved entrance like the back door,” Maze said.
According to Maze, these non-secure entrances have created problems for 10K. “You can’t give people access to 10K without giving them access to all of Dupre—they can walk out of the 10K area and be up in the res halls, and there were a couple incidents with that last year,” she said.
Maze recalled one specific security lapse. “Last semester there was one incident where the back door got so broken that it was stuck open, and we had to have a security guard posted there until it was fixed, which left them unavailable to go address other issues,” she said. “We tried a number of solutions, hiring security guards to stand in the hallway, [but that] still didn’t address the back entrance situation, and that cost had to be put on the student org. It costs a good $100 or more to have security there for the entire program.”
Though the broader Macalester community is just hearing about the decision now, the conversation about security issues in 10K and Dupre began last spring.
“We had these conversations late last semester, and we knew the proposal was taking that space offline as a programming space, but we were going through staff transitions and trying to wait and see what the new Assistant Vice President (AVP) and Dean of Students and Donna [Vice President of the College Donna Lee] thought about what we were asking,” Maze said.
This August, the conversation continued.
“Once DeMethra [LaSha Bradley, AVP and Dean of Students] came and got settled in, we had people who were still asking about reserving 10K. We explained to and discussed the situation with DeMethra and Donna, and after DeMethra discussed it with Donna, she agreed that the safety and security of students would be compromised if we continued to allow that,” Maze said.
At the MCSG meeting on Tuesday, LaSha Bradley stressed that this “was a decision that was really anguished over.”
Although 10K has officially been taken offline — and there are no current plans to renovate or bring it back online — it will still be used, and will become a space under the purview of ResLife that all residential students may use.
“It might be a more residential lounge space, a space for students to utilize. It won’t be dead space, but it won’t be open to student orgs because their events attract non-residential and non-Macalester students—and they should,” Maze said.
Maze continued, “I would say that it is easier to move forward than to go back. I think students might be saying ‘Let’s put up a plan so they will reopen 10k.’” She suggested that a better alternative “would be ‘Let’s push to get new spaces… Why pour money into a building that may need to be taken offline when they might be willing to invest in additional space? Why try to go back and get the old car fixed when you can get a brand new car?”
In thinking about the decision to close 10K, Maze continuously emphasized the safety and security of students as the top priority. “Above all else the safety and security of residential students is important” she said.
Though many students have expressed frustration with the situation, some have also expressed an understanding of the need for safety in Dupre.
“There must have been valid concerns from administration about security in the building, and we have no problem with that—we want this community to be safe and secure and people in Dupre to be safe and comfortable,” Mac Musical Theatre Group leader Emily Nadel ’18 said.
Giulia Girgenti ’18 also said she understood the safety concerns, but added that “the atmosphere in 10K is something that will be very difficult to replicate, especially in The Loch. It makes sense that CAO and ResLife want to keep first-years safe, but it was a venue with such popularity precisely because of its dynamic uses and intimate feel. Students know that The Loch is not a suitable alternative. It’s just not.”
Some orgs feel like they have nowhere left to go. “Our big problem is that they haven’t provided us a viable alternative to 10K; really it has a unique role and none of the other spaces have the sets that we need,” Natvig said.
Closing 10K highlights what some students on campus feel is a lack of support for arts and creative communities.
“If they don’t give us 10K and there is no other space built in the next 10 years, it makes me worry that these performance orgs will not exist,” Shor said.
Nadel echoed her sentiment, saying, “for me, the conversation is less about 10K and more about whether or not art on campus matters, and whether performing arts matter… I am cognizant of the fact that removing 10K as a performance space on this campus has really negative implications for whether or not there can be student performing arts and whether or not we value them as a campus community.”
At the MCSG meeting, Maze suggested the Campus Center as a potential alternative for creative spaces on campus. “If you’re looking for creative spaces, I personally invite you to use the CC as that space.”
In a statement to The Mac Weekly, MacSlams leadership wrote that they recognize the value of 10K as a performance space, as well as the administration’s security concerns. They continued, “we worked with Reservations to find an alternative, and they were very accommodating about our needs for a poetry slam space. We ended up deciding to use The Loch, which we think will work well. We’re saddened by the loss of 10K for org programming, but also hoping that the college and Res Life can work together to implement the necessary changes to the space to make it possible to use it again in the future.”