The preliminary plans for redesigning Coffman Union’s student group space on the second floor have created a mix of responses. Many groups are against the idea of redesigning the space, as it would leave some important groups without a meeting place and would get rid of historic murals.
The University of Minnesota has 810 student groups, 29 of which have space on the second floor. This may seem unbalanced, but some groups need and use Coffman’s space more than others. The University allows all registered student groups to rent out classroom space, which is a good alternative to having an office in Coffman. The main change that would come from the redesign is that an open and shared office space would be on Coffman’s second floor for all groups to use. This answer to the groups wanting space isn’t much different from the situation those groups are in right now. Using shared space in Coffman isn’t much better than renting out classroom space.
Many of the groups that are given space on the second floor are cultural groups. Students that are involved in these groups use their space for more than just meetings: They create a cultural community as well. Other groups simply do not have as legitimate a claim to the space as the cultural groups who now occupy it.
One group that would lose space because of the redesign is the Hmong Minnesota Student Association. This group has established itself at Coffman, and many students feel at home there. Taking their space away just creates a new problem. In the end, most groups are not getting what they want out of the redesign. The groups that want space should simply continue renting classrooms instead of disturbing the current delicate system of groups on the second floor.