Student groups return to Coffman

by Emily Ayshford

With the opening of Coffman Union, some campus student groups now are able to reclaim their spots in a prime piece of campus real estate.

Although many student groups said they are thankful for the new location, some have reported problems with moving from their former home in Stadium Village Mall to Coffman Union.

The University hired a moving company, Beltmann Group, to move student groups’ possessions into Coffman Union offices last Thursday, but some groups were confused because all of their belongings were not moved.

“They apparently forgot to move us,” said Lan Ta, president of the Asian American Student Union.

Jason Hancock, facilities director for Twin Cities Student Unions, said it was unclear why the movers did not move everything, but they came back Monday to finish the job.

Groups have also cited problems with Internet connections, but Karen Lyons, TCSU marketing director, said it is each group’s responsibility to call the University Network and Telecommunication Services to activate the connection.

“The building is not full access,” said Maggie Towle, Coffman Union director, “But we’re working around the clock to get it done, and I think the groups know that.”

Even though some student groups are now housed in newer offices and in a more central location, they have paid the same amount for rent throughout the renovation as they did before Coffman Union was closed. Fees-receiving groups pay $5.80 per square foot, and non-fees-receiving groups pay $2.60 per square foot.

After Coffman Union closed, student groups were housed at 720 Washington Ave. S.E., but moved to the Stadium Village Mall in January 2001 after severe mold problems were discovered at the old location.

“The lack of fungus in the walls (at the mall) was nice,” said Antonio Cardona, co-chair of the Queer Student Cultural Center.

Ta said the Stadium Village Mall location worked for a while, but it was nice to move to a more accessible location.

“It was too far off campus,” she said.

Cardona said they also had a problem with mice in the mall.

“I put my foot on something squishy, and I looked down and it was a dead mouse,” Cardona said.

Celeste Shahidi, owner of Stadium Village Mall, said she does not know what will become of the space the University leased for student group offices.

“We’re striving to find tenants that will fit in nicely and will bring something to the community,” Shahidi said. “We’re really going to miss the student groups.”

The offices in Coffman Union range from 37-square-foot cubicles to offices larger than 1,000 square feet. Student groups in Coffman Union were guaranteed offices with similar square footage before the renovation, Towle said. The location of their offices was determined by the TCSU Board of Governors, and smaller groups such as the Lutheran Student Movement and Campus Ambassadors were given smaller offices.

Student groups have also been pleased with the diversity of the new union. Cardona said it was nice to be in a building with several things to do and to be on the same floor as other student organizations.

“There is more traffic, more participation and more people coming into the office,” Cardona said.