Coffman’s second floor

There isn’t enough room for everyone, so why disrupt a cultural center?

by Daily Editorial Board

In the past several weeks, there has been serious and sustained public discussion about the allocation of space to student groups on the second floor of Coffman Union. The current situation allows only a small minority of the University of MinnesotaâÄôs more than 600 student groups to have an office there.
The Board of Governors has handled the allocation process with exceptional transparency and should be commended for its strong desire to seek input from as many different student groups as possible. As the various proposals are considered, the board must find a way to keep the student groups âÄî especially cultural groups âÄî clustered together in their current location.
Some have pointed out, fairly, that it is not fair that some student groups have office space in Coffman. But the University does not have the available space to house every student group that requests it. Therefore, a decision has to be made that will certainly disappoint many student groups. We think it best Coffman remain home to the cultural groups that currently inhabit it.
Individually, cultural groups are unifying forces: They exist to be a home away from home for students who share the same heritage. Together, the concentration of a large number of students of cultural groups creates a diverse community of communities, centered in the heart of the campus.
Perhaps the floor space can be reconfigured to include a resource center for other student groups. But the cultural groups should not be forced out of Coffman.
As the board considers all the options for Coffman, it should keep in mind the unique conditions there that probably cannot be recreated elsewhere âÄî no matter how well meaning the attempt.