Groups’ unused space at risk

Emily Kaiser

Three times a day, Coffman Union employees walk the halls of Coffman’s second floor making sure students are using their office space.

The traffic counts, which monitor how often student-group offices are open, are part of the office application review due in February.

The Twin Cities Student Unions Board of Governors could warn a few groups in December that they are not meeting minimum office use expectations this semester, said Jason Hancock, Coffman Union facilities and operations assistant director.

According to the Coffman Union space application, groups with smaller offices must be available 15 hours a week. The spaces larger than 500 square feet must have a minimum of 30 office hours a week.

Groups that don’t meet minimum office use could lose their office space next year, Hancock said.

“Groups below their requirements will be contacted so they have spring semester to improve their numbers,” he said.

When the Board of Governors allocates space to student groups spring semester, traffic counts are part of the decision to give the group a smaller or larger space, Hancock said.

The numbers provide a good indicator of their need for office space, Hancock said

“The board has done a good job giving space to groups who apply,” he said.

The counts are done between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. Monday through Friday by student-employees, Hancock said.

Math senior and Queer Student Cultural Center co-chairperson Mike Grewe said the counts often are unfair because they frequently are done early in the morning or late at night when the group doesn’t have events.

Sophomore and Coffman Union employee Mal Nelson said one person spends 10 minutes counting students in offices at random times. She said some of the smaller offices are empty when she performs traffic counts.

Evan Wells, Twin Cities Student Unions Board of Governors policy committee chairman, said it’s important to make sure the limited space is used.

“We want groups to be accessible to students,” he said.

Dao Yang, Hmong Minnesota Student Association president, said the group averages eight to 10 members during each check.

Yang said the group received a bigger space this year.

“Last year we had a really small room and kept taking up the hallways,” he said. “They gave us a bigger room so we could fit more of our members.”

Chemical engineering graduate student and Al-Madinah Cultural Center member Zeeshan Syedain said the counts should be done, but the procedure often is unfair.

“They should look more at weekly events you are doing because if they don’t come during our events they could think we don’t use the space,” he said.

In addition to traffic counts, the board looks at a group’s contribution to the University through events and services.

Hancock said the Student Emergency Loan Fund office, for example, is given space because of its services rather than events for the public.

“It’s never going to be jam- packed, but it’s the service that matters,” he said.

Wells said the groups will receive a notice in the next week reminding them of the importance of traffic counts for their reapplication next semester.