Coffman’s second floor requires rearranging

Cultural student groups worry that their spaces will be reduced.

by Jill Jensen

The second floor of Coffman Union will likely require physical reconfiguration to provide a solution to the long-term problem of space allocation.
Members of cultural student groups expressed outrage at an open forum for student group space allocation Tuesday, reiterating that they needed a commitment not to reduce their space.
Though Board of Governors President Joel Livingood would not comment specifically on the square footage that would be allocated to the cultural center, he said the groups will still be âÄúan important part of the puzzleâÄù and invited them to help design the space.
He said changes must be made to the second floor if the board is to address student groupsâÄô needs while keeping in mind historical practices of space allocation. He said the national trend is to have permanent and semi-permanent spaces for student government, like MSA and GAPSA, commuter students and under-represented groups.
But for Julio Herrera, who wished not to be affiliated with a particular student group, the illustration with possible designs for the second floor was reminiscent of the segregation maps of the 1950s after World War II.
âÄúYou will not be able to fit âĦ [all the cultural groups] in one center like that,âÄù Herrera said. âÄúThere is no way you can do that.âÄù
Cymone Fuller, a member of Black Motivated Women, said all student groups can use the space currently occupied by the cultural center.
âÄúI guarantee no one will say no,âÄù Fuller said.
Zehra Rizvi, a member of the Al-Madinah Cultural Center, said the groups needed a commitment to the amount of space they will occupy in order to âÄúbuild trustâÄù with the board.
âÄúWe do feel attacked,âÄù Rizvi said.
Mandi Stebbins from the Queer Student Cultural Center said the groups should try to work together in the future.
The âÄúgenericâÄù plan could see a resource center, shared student office spaces and conference centers in addition to the cultural center. The BOG will see an initial proposal April 7 and will vote April 21. Livingood said the final product is projected for September 2012.
After numerous student groups complained to the 2009-10 Student Services Fees Committee about the unfair distribution of office space in Coffman, Vice Provost Jerry Rinehart asked the BOG of the Student Unions and Activities to re-evaluate the second-floor office space.
Last fall, per recommendation of the policy committee, the board froze the space allocation process and formed an ad-hoc committee made up of members who currently hold space in Coffman, and those who donâÄôt, to continue the review process.
Possible solutions have included open use for all student groups and making a resource center available to everyone.
All student groups that want office space on the second floor of Coffman must apply annually.