Commentary: Sudden change forces groups to shuffle

How many Northeastern students know of the fourth floor computer lab in the Curry Student Center? The answer: Not many. And, of those who do know about it, how many are actually willing to go out of their way to use it? Again, the answer is not many. The reason: The fourth floor lab is so isolated from the rest of campus that most students would rather wait in the aisle of a crowded infoCommons than feel displaced in the uppermost corner of the student center.

At 6 p.m. Monday evening, representatives from 13 student organizations whose bases of operations center in rooms 232A and 232B CSC were called for a mandatory meeting. Having been involved in the executive board of a very active student organization for the past four years, I anticipated the usual “housekeeping” meeting held each fall to go over basic office space management.

To much shock and dismay, the 13 student organizations – all crammed in a small common space – were notified that they must move out of their respective locations and relocate to this remote computer lab on the fourth floor indefinitely (which in Northeastern terminology means permanently). Even more alarming than word of the planned move was the announcement that the 13 groups must pack up and leave their offices within the next two weeks.

The beginning of each year is a hectic time for student groups; we’re busy recruiting new members, organizing programs, hosting events and typing up a slew of organizational logistics. The one safe haven we have is our office. Office space was allocated during the spring of last year – move-in date was early July – so group operations could begin immediately.

So why, after the semester has begun and group operations are underway, was the decision made to uproot 13 student groups in mid-October? The move will send 13 organizations (70 executive-board members) to one room on the fourth floor. The then-vacant 232 CSC will be made into the new hub for Co-op Connections. This is said to “help to eliminate the NU Shuffle.” Think again. Career Services is in the CSC, so to eliminate the NU Shuffle would be to move Co-op Connections into the same building.

The abrupt announcement to dislodge 13 organizations – which work to stimulate student life on campus – in a matter of a week is unjustified. The notice is too short, and the plan is faulty.

Without our student organizations Northeastern would not be able to compete with surrounding universities. The 13 student groups aim to provide diversity, sponsoring effective programming and advocating for the student body. The meeting on Monday showed a lack of respect from the university toward its student organizations and a disgrace to the institutional functions of active student groups.

Proposed solution: The brains behind this lopsided plan should meet with the 13 student organizations they are going to displace, because they obviously do not know the functionality of the student center. The building is supposed to be student-oriented, not bureaucratically controlled.

The timeframe to relocate is too short, and the timing could not be worse. Because of an apparent lack of organizational skill and poor planning, the project should not be undertaken. This project is a waste on numerous levels. Not only is it a waste of the time and resources of the 13 student organizations and the Student Center staff, it is a major waste of university funds.

If you want the Student Center to be functional for students, ask for advice from students – they will tell you this project is a horrible concept.

– Suzan El-Rayess is a junior political science major and president of the Arab Student Association

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