On Monday, Nov. 2, David Timmann, the director of Sykes Student Union, notified presidents of organizations with offices in Sykes that private student organization offices would be replaced with a collaborative work space after May 2016.
The creation of a new, temporary Student Organization Complex will act as a test run for the Student Life Center proposed in the dramatic remodel to Sykes, which is likely to take place within seven years.
Currently, 34 organizations in Sykes share 22 offices. In total, there are 280 official organizations at WCU. As such, according to Timmann, Sykes has “often struggled to place applying groups into offices.”
“There is a growing trend across the country to move away from individual offices for student organizations and towards a more collaborative work environment,” said Timman.
At the Thursday, Sept. 3 Student Government Association (SGA) meeting, the new remodel was proposed.
“The consensus from SGA was that the [new] configuration offers a more equitable solution to office space allocations for student organizations and a collaborative work/meeting area for all 280 student organizations,” said Timmann.
Timmann explained that the new remodel will have soft seating, collaborative media work tables, conference tables and chairs, a work counter, limited short and longer term storage, a private conference room holding four people, and an executive meeting room for 18 people.
Organizations will be able to book the conference room and executive meeting room.
There will also still be private offices for SGA, the Off-Campus and Commuter Association, Residence Hall Association, Fraternity and Sorority Life, LGBTQA, and the Leadership Consultants.
As The Quad and WCUR are not a part of the suite of offices, they will not be affected by this remodel. They will, however, be affected by the larger remodel, which will create a new Media Center.
The remodel will begin after commencement in May 2016, so organization presidents are advised to have all items out of their offices by May 6.
Not all students are happy about the remodel, however. For some, there are questions about how the locker storage space will be decided upon and which clubs will have access.
This storage issue was discussed at an open forum on Tuesday, Nov. 3. Questions were brought up about student organization archives and awards. One mentioned potential solution was for a creation of trophy cases in the Student Life Center in the new, remodeled Sykes.
Dontay Harford, the president of Video Game Club, said, “We need that office to have our club continue operating as smoothly as it does. If they take it away, our members will have to carry large, heavy TVs across campus, in the dark. Unless this new ‘Student Organization Complex’ has a place for Video Game Club to store 200 lbs. worth of TVs and consoles securely, this is going to nearly kill our club.”
Naeem Brown, the president of the Black Student Union, was vocal at the open forum about the problems removing organization offices would cause.
“Even though I will be graduating before the expansion is done, I just care about the things that made me a good student at WCU: the Black Student Union and the Office of Multicultural Affairs. BSU been around servicing the school since 1969 and wouldn’t function the same without the private office we always had,” he said, via email. He was also concerned about the future of the Office of Multicultural Affairs.
For some, storage space isn’t the issue, but rather the lack of a regular, private meeting space.
Alyssa Thomas, a sophomore and board member of Circle K International, said, “I think it will be super inconvenient to the organizations that use their offices on a regular basis.”
The president of WCU Improv, Derry MacDermott, said, “For our organization, we have office hours to meet with different members of the team to have private discussions and hold meetings with our executive board. Some of these are not planned so having to sign up for a conference room would be extremely inconvenient.”
In addition, MacDermott said, “We had to wait a year to get an office, so if there is complaining about not all organizations getting a room they should have to wait like most have to. Also, not all organizations need an office. I can guarantee that out of the 280 student organizations, the same amount that have offices right now will continue to use this area. I am not a fan of this and hope this doesn’t actually take place.”
There is also a concern about expensive equipment being open to the public.
“As a student member of the NOW Music Society, I have access to rooms most students do not,” said senior Jeffrey Holmes. “The center for music technology lab contains specialized equipment that is not for the general usage of students. I was trained to operate this equipment and taught to be respectful of these spaces. Granting public access would severely increase the risk for theft or vandalism as well as creating an unpredictable work environment for the students that are currently working in this room.”
Still, some approve of the change.
Stephanie Frasca, a 2015 graduate of WCU who used the office spaces weekly for two years, said, “I like the idea, especially since WCU is becoming larger.”
Theresa Kelly is a fourth-year student majoring in English literature secondary education. She can be reached at TK780615@wcupa.edu.