Students discuss campus space issues with top administrators at recent summit

Because Sellinger just isn’t quite sufficient…

The Student Space Working Group—an organization founded in the fall of 2008 to address the lack of study space, social areas, offices for student organizations, and a centralized student center—recently got the chance to discuss their objectives with top University administrators at a summit organized by Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson.

SSWG Chair Max Glassie (COL ’10) and Communications Director Fitz Lufkin (COL ’11) both said they thought the administration was responsive at the summit. Plans are still in the talking stage, though, at least until the group finishes the “White Paper”—a student space proposal plan with information from surveys and interviews with students—that they are currently working on.  SSWG hopes to finalize the paper by the end of the semester.

“Space is something that moves very slowly,” Glassie said “A lot of it is talk, and at this point we have to realize that talk is a really good thing and it means a lot of progress.”

Among the long-term proposals is a plan for creating a Student Center with a restaurant or café in the New South basement.

“There’s approximately 30,000 square feet of space under New South, which is largely unused,” Max Glassie, Chair of the SSWG said. “The plans include a conference center—one of the big problems students face now is the lack of adequate space for programming.”

Although progress on the design has been held back by funding concerns, the administration has shown its support for the student space working group’s initiatives. Allocations for funding for renovations in New South and other spaces on campus has been placed on a priority list for space funding projects in the Capital Campaign.

According to Glassie, several administrators have expressed interest in making some immediate improvements to the Leavey Center, such as furniture upgrades and better bulletin board space. Long term plans can include the ability to build on Leavey, above the bookstore.

Olson advocates “remaining thoughtful about the use of space in the Leavey Center,” especially in light of the new traffic that will be brought in by the Hariri Building, and, eventually, by the new Science Center. Olson also said that the administration plans to look at other areas on campus where more student space could be allocated and welcomes continued discussions about the topic.

Look for more about the SSWG in tomorrow’s issue of the Voice.

Additional reporting by Aleta Greer.  Photo by Juliana Brint.

4 Comments on “Students discuss campus space issues with top administrators at recent summit

  1. Does the New South basement plan include changes to Riverside lounge? Would it affect the space used by dance organizations on campus? Just some food for thought. Also, what is the status of the Old Jes Res?

  2. How about instead of giving a contract to Starbucks, they talk to the Corp first?

    And I disagree that “we have to realize that talk is a really good thing and it means a lot of progress.” Talk actually is just talk, whereas actual progress really is progress. If they’re stringing you along for year after year (while you graduate away), they’re not really interested in making significant change. They’ll give you billboards for sure, but unless you assert your power, they’re not going to prioritize you.

  3. Dave:

    What I meant by that is no decision related to significant improvement of student space happens over night, since it requires a great deal of planning first. The fact that last year there were no students talking to administrators about this issue and now we have a survey with 1000 respondents and a summit meeting with them and student leaders is certainly progress. Though certainly, I agree, that without consolidating the student voice and demonstrating the need for more student space, we won’t get anything accomplished. That’s the purpose of the white paper, which we will release in January, but we need as many contributors and ideas like yours from the student body as possible.

    If you like to be a member of the working group and help us advocate for more student space, please email We have an open invitation to anyone interested in helping out.

  4. There are already plans drawn up and almost finalized for what to do with that New South space; there’s even funding for it in the upcoming capital campaign. This is a lot of talk for something that’s already a fait accompli.

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