After remodel, student groups return to Coffman’s second floor

A sale at University Lutheran Church of Hope sells gently used household items to University of Minnesota students and community members on Saturday. The church, located in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood, hosted live music and served food throughout the day.

Juliet Farmer

A sale at University Lutheran Church of Hope sells gently used household items to University of Minnesota students and community members on Saturday. The church, located in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood, hosted live music and served food throughout the day.

Hailey Colwell

After a summer-long remodeling project, 12 selected student groups and cultural centers are moving back into Coffman Union’s second floor this week.

The remodel, which began in 2010 as an effort to address the long-term problem of limited space for student groups, was budgeted to cost about $2.5 million.

Because the redesign displaced more than 18 groups that previously held office space in Coffman, the project has been controversial among those organizations since redesign talks began in 2010.

Nine cultural centers, Commuter Connection, the Minnesota Student Association and the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly were chosen by an advisory committee to occupy the spaces through spring 2015. The remaining 20 percent of the floor is allocated as multi-use space for groups without a designated office.

Groups will be evaluated every two years on outreach efforts and space use to determine if they can keep their semi-permanent offices, Student Unions and Activities Director Maggie Towle said, adding that repositionable office walls and rolling chairs in the spaces will help give Coffman’s second floor the flexibility to evolve.

“We know that this floor will change over time,” she said, “and it will be up to the students.”

Though the floor’s multi-use area is meant to accommodate groups without space, groups with offices are being encouraged to share their space with smaller groups of similar interests, Towle said.

 

A rearrangement

The new layout of the floor has caused some groups to rethink their recruitment strategies.

The Minnesota International Student Association used to have a centrally located office on Coffman’s second floor but was relocated to a back corner after the remodel.

Because the group’s office will have less foot traffic, it will be a challenge to get as many new people coming through their doors, said group officer Grace Doherty.

Commuter Connection previously had a corner office and is now located near the multi-use area in the middle of the floor.

Group officer Kevin Ward said having a more accessible office will make it easier for students to use their resources and recruit new members.

 New glass office fronts will help with recruitment, said group officer Emily Myers, because they make the space feel less closed off to passersby.

“We’re inviting them in,” she said.

A grand opening for the space will take place in January, Towle said, after groups have settled in and have begun to make their mark.

 

-Pick up Tuesday’s Minnesota Daily for the full story on groups moving back into Coffman’s second floor.