Curry swap delayed

After being told they had two weeks to move from their offices, the outcries of 13 student groups have been heard- partially.

The groups that call room 232 Curry Student Center (CSC) home have been given an extension until late November to move from their offices up to a computer lab on the fourth floor of the student center. However, their complaints have brought the issue of under-utilized space in the CSC to the forefront and a major reorganization of the entire center is now in the works.

Since the 13 student groups were told their office space would be taken away, multiple open forum meetings between administration and students were held to give group members a chance to voice their concerns.

“None of us really want to move … but we have to face that this is going to happen,” said Maryann Acala, vice president of NU Barkada.

Acala said her group uses the office regularly and says it feels like home.

“I can say I actually live in this office,” she said. “It’s kind of deserted up there [on the fourth floor] … It’s just sad, I’ve been used to this space.”

Student Government Association (SGA) Vice President for Student Services Susan Dye has been working as a liaison between the students and administration. Dye said she is trying to postpone the temporary relocation until the spring semester, when the normal space allocation process takes place, but she said the November move is “probably going to happen.”

“It’s unfortunate, but I’m fighting for them to be as comfortable as possible and to maintain their ability to program,” she said.

The major concerns of the student group leaders, which were brought up at the forums, was the timing of the move. At the time of the original announcement the university had no plan of what offices would fill in the vacated office space, Dye said.

Dean of Campus Life Marina Iannalfo said the reason the move didn’t occur before the groups moved in was because the Student Center Governing Board (SCGB) wanted to weigh student opinion before definitive action was taken.

“The reality of it is that we started to look at scenarios in April, but the [SCGB] doesn’t convene during the summer, meaning we would have to do it without [student] input,” Iannalfo said. “We decided not to because we … couldn’t inform properly.”

Tentatively, the vacated office is set to serve as a space for new positions Northeastern is hiring, as well as Co-op Connections, Dye said. The positions being filled are a new manager for afterHOURS, a new coordinator of off-campus programming and a new hire to fill the role of director of leadership and engagement, which was vacated by former director John Silveria. Dye said there will be a six-month trial period of having those administrators occupy the 232 office before permanent renovations are made to the space.

Iannalfo, who led the development to make Speare Commons a “one-stop shop” for services related to off- and on-campus living, said she hopes to do something similar in the CSC by turning the second floor into a central location for students with questions about student group programming.

“It’s not just to have staff sit closely together, but to have staff members cross-trained,” she said.

The purpose of cross-training is to eliminate the “NU shuffle” by having staff members understand the various aspects of putting on programs such as necessary contracts, scheduling and publicity, Iannalfo said.

“I’d like to see it tomorrow, but we know that’s not reasonable,” she said. Currently SCGB is researching the concept to find out what components would be needed, and to look at options for space.

With a major restructuring, Iannalfo said inconvenience is a natural component. When Speare was renovated, nearly 40 staff members moved their offices into residence hall rooms for four months over the summer, which is housing’s busiest season, she said.

“It was a huge inconvenience, but we did it because we knew there were benefits in the bigger picture,” she said.

Ed Klotzbier, vice president for student affairs, said while he agrees with making the second floor a “one-stop shop” for student programming, the relocation of the student group offices was “poorly communicated.”

A fire in the student center last June brought his attention to the under-utilization and neglect of the student center’s space, Klotzbier said. Insufficient use of areas such as the first-floor art gallery, the game room and the fourth-floor as a whole needs to be rectified, he said.

Even though Dye said she is on the side of the student groups and wants to see the relocation put off until the spring, she agreed with the administration’s overall plan to fix the center’s “space that is not being used to its full potential.”

Iannalfo said the fourth floor lab consists of 13 individual desks equipped with computers, and she thinks it is a “viable space” for student group use. She said she is looking into how to best use the lab and make it more private for the groups.

“I understand the 13 student groups that have been asked to move wasn’t the best timing,” she said. “While change is an inconvenience, sometimes in the big picture, change is necessary to keep progress … keep moving.”

To help students “understand where the future of the student center lies,” administration presented the “big picture” of the CSC reorganization at a forum last Tuesday, Dye said.

A space planning task force was assigned by SCGB to analyze configurations that will make more available space and allow more student groups to utilize it, said Dye, the board’s chair. The task force includes Dye, Iannalfo, student center Director Gail Olyha and SGA Senator Chris Bourne, who sat on the board last year.

The goal of the task force is to take in student concerns and translate them into designing a better student center, to give it a “face lift,” Dye said.

Currently, only 38 of the more than 200 recognized student groups on campus are allocated space in the CSC, and Dye said the task force would like to increase that number to allow at least 60 different groups to have office space.

SCGB is organizing a focus group composed of members of the existing groups being housed in the center “to design their dream Curry Student Center,” Dye said. Their ideas will be put into a floor plan which will be used to help shape the renovations. They should take place next summer if all goes as planned, she said.

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