In response to student organization requests for increased space, Student Services will be converting the now-empty room adjacent to the 4th floor library student lounge into a room for executive boards of student organizations to use as a hub for meetings and storage space.
Though the project was started a year ago, Student Services is aiming to have the Student Organization Center open over the summer. Outgoing SBA President and 3L Jess Signor said that one of the central ideas was for student organizations to be able to have general body meetings in the student activity room so groups will no longer have to book classrooms.
Assistant Director of Student Services Jennifer Cerny has been seeking out student input as to what the Student Organization Center should include so it can serve a utilitarian purpose for students while also providing an environment in which student organization leaders can communicate and increase collaborative events.
“As the way that student groups work together changes and evolves, we want a space that matches that,” Cerny explained. The Student Organization Center will be accessible via key card to all 36 student organizations and their executive board members. Though a student organization room does currently exist in the basement of Knight Hall, according to Signor, it is rarely if ever used.
“This will hopefully be a more centrally located place where student group leaders can come together and hash out whatever events they might have,” said Signor. The former SBA President added that she hopes the room “becomes more of a collaborative space where there is more conversation among the groups than there currently is.”
Based on student input, instead of having assigned desk space, the Student Organization Center will be furnished with pods that Student Services hopes will facilitate movement and collaboration.
“The days of having a desktop at a certain desk assigned for one person are gone,“ Cerny explained, adding that many companies have taken on this innovative approach as a means to facilitate interaction, a method after which the Student Organization Center will be modeled.
The student activity room is planned to provide various technological components, such as a Smart Board for idea sharing, a computer kiosk for quick searches, web cameras, and possibly printing. The room will also be set up with a separate conference room and furniture that allows student groups to have joint meetings, as well as a casual area designed for idea sharing.
“In order to continue having as many events on campus, collaboration is really important, and it’s something the SBA has been really pushing for. Anything we can provide to help foster that relationship between student groups is part of our goal,” said Cerny. A digital bulletin board is also being planned for to facilitate cosponsoring events and communicating with groups in general.
Student Services is hoping to debut the Student Organization Center during orientation and use it to generate interest for 1Ls to join student groups, according to Cerny.
“We look at space as hopefully providing service to existing student leaders but also as a place that will help foster interest in student groups and breed new student leaders,” Cerny said. The set-up of the room with big glass panels, allowing students to view inside is hoped to stir interest among students to join organizations and become more involved on campus.
Along with access to the room, Cerny said, student organizations will be assigned a locked space to store materials. This feature comes in response to feedback gathered about student organizations’ need for consistency during the yearly executive board transition process. According to Cerny, a locked space for student organizations is meant to help students retain consistency and ensure that information is centralized and can be easily transferred to new board members.