Offices on third floor of DUC to move this summer
Following a series of discussions beginning in the fall of 2016, Student Affairs has designated new spaces in the Danforth University Center for the Center for Diversity and Inclusion and Student Life Newspaper beginning next school year.
The Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) will be moved to the office space Student Life currently occupies on the DUC’s third floor. Student Life, which is independent of Washington University, will move into the DUC Event Management office on the third floor and that office will move to the first floor of the DUC. Campus Life offices will be consolidated into one space on the second floor of the building.
Student Affairs is also in talks with Student Union’s executive board to resolve issues with the organization’s current office space, following increased demand for consolidation of SU offices on the DUC’s north end to one floor.
Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Rob Wild acknowledged the domino effect created by the the CDI’s move and emphasized the importance of revitalizing the third floor of the DUC.
“We need to move the CDI over to the DUC and that creates a domino [effect]. Although we knew all of this was likely going to happen late last summer, it took us a while to work with the architects to figure out where the right fits were for different offices,” Wild said. “One of the things we’ve realized is that the third floor is not really a well-visible place, sopart of this project involves opening up the stairwell next to the fun room.”
Following increased student demand, the CDI was created and has been housed in a temporary space in Olin Library since its inception. Plans have long existed to move its never-permanent spaces, according to Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Lori White. Construction is slated to begin in May, and all moves should be finished before the star of the fall 2017 semester.
Student Life offered Student Affairs a variety of suggestions to grant CDI the necessary space while maintaining as much square footage as possible, according to Washington University Student Media Board member Bill Freivogel.
“We weren’t very happy with the sort of conclusion being reached before any discussions had actually begun, and by that I mean the conclusion that there needed to be—that the center needed to move into our space—before there was actually discussion about how we might alter our use of the space in order to make more space on the third floor,” Freivogel said.
While the current plan enables Student Life to remain on the third floor, Frievogel notes the impact that the considerable reduction in space will have on the paper’s pre-orientation program, Freshman Press.
“The initial reduction that was proposed by the University was about a third. They gave us back a few hundred square feet; it’s now about 30 percent, he said. “But that the biggest issue is with Freshman Press, where there is not enough room in the new space to accommodate everybody that’s involved in Freshman Press. And that’s unfortunate given the desires of Student Life and Student Affairs that Freshman Press continue to be vigorous and continue to be expanded if anything.”
Additional requests made by Student Life include the addition of a portion of the Liberman Graduate Center to address space shortages, a reduction in monthly rent paid to the University and a commitment to maintain and update computers and software in the newsroom. These requests were rejected due to Student Affairs’ budget constraints, according to Wild.
In a 1999 agreement signed between the University and Student Life, the University stated that it would to pay a publisher’s fee in exchange for allowing the paper to become an independent organization and to publish without administrative influence. Wild argued the lack of funding available to update technology within the Student Life newsroom was largely due to the ongoing costs of this fee.
“When we moved, in 2007, Student Life out of the Women’s Building into the Danforth University Center, we never raised the rent. The University found that Student Life was already receiving a significant discount on the use of their space so we were not going to reduce the rent any further, although we are committed to keeping the rent at the same low cost,” Wild said.
Members of Student Affairs’ staff engaged with an outside consulting group and visited the newsroom of the Daily Northwestern at Northwestern University in hopes of creating a space conducive to newspaper production despite the space reduction. White noted the difficulty of accommodating student organizations and emphasized uncertainty about the future of layout plans at the University.
“Our campus has a long-term master plan. And [for] campuses like ours that are landlocked, that’s really challenging. We can’t create space that doesn’t exist. I think the University will have to continue to think really creatively about how to do that best. And I don’t know quite at this point what that looks like,” she said.
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