Staff editorial: Kagin space allocation should give priority to students


When Macalester College administrators decide this week how to divy up the new office spaces opening in Kagin Commons, they should recognize that institutional priorities are student priorities. In allocating space, administrators should consider the many high-profile student organizations that currently find themselves inadequately housed in classrooms, closets and basements around campus. Numerous organizations, including the Macalester chapters of Minnesota Public Interest Research Group and Students for a Democratic Society, meet in classrooms and conference rooms because they have not received permanent space. Mac Bike, which administrators could have easily and logically relocated in the new Leonard Center, works out of a basement closet similar to the unventilated closet dark room allocated to MacPics. For our part, The Mac Weekly office is currently an inaccessible and unnoticed den adjacent to the laundry room in the basement of 30 Macalester Street. Until this year, the office wasn’t even provided an official-looking sign for the door.Why aren’t student-supported causes like sustainable societies, cost-efficient mobility, access to art, and open communication adequately supported at our college? What can we infer about the administration’s interest in effective and visible student organizations when an organization like The Mac Weekly is located not in the Campus Center, but a windowless basement space that was (we hope) never actually intended to house a student organization? Why have these student priorities been rendered almost invisible by other institutional priorities?

Particularly on a squeezed 53-acre urban campus, visibility and priorities are exactly what conversations about space and planning come down to. Currently, the prevailing message about how students’ interests and organizations measure up is loud and clear. Macalester officials have placed the students’ oldest, most widely read independent news publication-and, with the effective eviction of the World Press Institute and departure of Doug Stone, one of Macalester’s only remaining spaces for journalism at all-in a windowless office off of a dorm laundry room.

We are not alone among student organizations in the fact of our relegation to the bowels of campus, but our case is certainly representative of where priorities stand. We respectfully urge administrators to keep in mind that making student organization spaces more visible and accessible would almost guarantee better organizing and in our case better news service. Physical position and adequate space are far from questions of mere prestige, but inform and shape the ability of student organizations to do our work well. We hope allocation of spaces in Kagin represents the opportunity for a move toward more student-centered priorities, and we urge administrators to act with such priorities in mind.

The opinions expressed above are those of The Mac Weekly, as determined by the staff. The perspectives are not representative of Macalester College.