The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

MCSG tackles conflicts over student space difficulties

By Sidney Ainkorn

With $75,000 in the budget to use for student spaces, the Macalester College Student Government is eliciting student feedback to help in allocating that money. Student organizations were invited to an open forum Nov. 3 at the MCSG meeting, allowing representatives from student orgs to share their views on student spaces and make a case for their specific needs. One of the recurring issues was use of spaces by multiple groups. MCSG is looking both at how to expand the amount of space available and what to do with space that is currently underutilized. The Doty game room, a basement space used for summer storage is an area being examined, and one plan for this area involves subdividing it into two or three spaces.

Dean of Students Jim Hoppe points out though that if the Doty room gets subdivided, then it cannot be used for trunk storage, housing the packages that students are allowed to ship to school before the semester starts.

“Every decision has an impact somewhere else,” he said.

In regard to underutilized space there are rooms like the Turck-Out lounge, currently available for student use which could be improved in some way, as well as locker and cubby space that currently go unused as student orgs sometimes neglect to pick up their keys.

The issue of existing space was raised at the end of the forum, when several representatives voiced their dissatisfaction over the lack of student spaces in the Leonard Center and Institute for Global Citizenship, the two most recently constructed buildings on campus. Several MCSG members encouraged students to get involved in the building of the new fine arts building to avoid frustrations about space in the future.

Hoppe pointed out that those buildings were designed with student input, the IGC contains meeting space for the IGC student council and the Leonard Center was designed with the students that make up the sports teams in mind.

“Space is a commodity. We could always benefit from more,” Hoppe said. “We have a beautiful campus in a great location. The challenge is that we’re only on 50 acres.”

MPIRG’s representative to MCSG described the group’s current space as an “overflowing cubby,” and talked about the specific needs of an organization that holds both large and small meetings several times a week, struggles to store materials for future events, and often holds activities like phone-banking.

MacBike has been officially requesting a different space for around seven years, according to the group’s statement, which enumerated the reasons a new location was needed. Last week they moved from their long-time home in a storage closet in The Mac Weekly office to a new space in room 015 in the basement of George Draper Dayton Hall.

Macalester Peace and Justice Committee and Queer Union spoke about the Info Shop in the basement of Kirk. Jurisdiction of that particular space is complicated by the fact that while it technically belongs to QU, several years ago when QU was not using the space it was turned into a radical book and zine library by MPJC and other orgs. Now QU is showing interest in returning to the space. Though they currently hold meetings in the campus center, questions have been raised about privacy and the space is too small to fit all the members. The Info Shop holds office hours and is also used by other orgs on campus.

Issues of ownership aside, there are further questions over the Info Shop’s current space as a meeting and storage place. MPJC finds it too small for meetings or movie screenings and items from the library are currently housed in crates on the floor, an especially undesirable situation given that the Kirk basement as been known to flood.

Also housed in the Kirk basement are a 24-hour computer lab, which will remain in its current location, and the Women and Gender Resource Center. A representative from FIA-STARSA spoke about the problems arising from the WGRC not being a year-round space. Having to pack up the room every year has resulted in furniture being thrown away and a computer misplaced, but year-round space is in especially short supply.

“There are very few spaces that don’t have multiple uses,” Hoppe said.

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