Administration responds to student concerns over removal of Gargoyle and Mallinckrodt 100A

| Staff Reporter

Following the student body’s negative reaction to the news that the Gargoyle and Mallinckrodt 100A would no longer be available to student organizations after May, administrators said they plan to address the concerns of student groups that use those spaces.

WU-Gargoyle-AlternativesGraphic by Brandon Wilburn | Student Life

Over 1,400 people signed a petition to keep the Gargoyle and 100A open, citing the 2,674 hours of dance rehearsals, banquets, concerts and other events that the Gargoyle facilitated in 2018. Student Union passed a formal recommendation that asked the University to address the high cost and limited booking options of alternative spaces, as well as the lack of student input and lack of storage space for props and instruments outside the Gargoyle as major concerns March 19.

SU members met with Provost Holden Thorp and other members of the members to discuss how to resolve some of the issues created by the Gargoyle’s closure Tuesday night.

“Over the past couple weeks, Student Union and leaders across a myriad of different student groups have all showcased that we don’t just want the Gargoyle, we need it to continue carrying out the mission of our student groups and by extension the mission of the University,” SU VP of Public Relations and senior Rory Mather wrote in a statement to Student Life. “While we are disappointed that student voices weren’t given a larger emphasis in the initial discussion, we hope that the University listens to us now and gives us a chance to be a part of the decisions that are directly affecting our Wash. U. experience.”

Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Rob Wild admits that the administration could have done a better job of reaching out to student groups before announcing the plans for the spaces in Mallinckrodt.

“I absolutely think that [lack of student consultation] is a fair criticism,” Wild said. “We did not consult with students. We should have. I wish we had. We did not…It would have been much better had we brought students into the conversation.”

Since student groups already finalized their budgets, booking expensive studio time outside of the Gargoyle and Mallinckrodt 100A, spaces that were freely available for groups, was not accounted for in budget requests. Administrators say they plan to account for this extra cost as well as the new scarcity of studio time by subsidizing booking for student groups and extending the times at which studio spaces on campus are available.

“We are looking at a few studios to see if we can offset costs for some of them,” Campus Life event coordinator Brittany Panus said. “So, in addition to the Mudd multipurpose rooms and the Women’s Building, we also have the Lopata multipurpose room. Umrath Lounge will be available after 10 p.m. for rehearsals at no cost per reservation, and then classrooms can still be used for rehearsals, just within the same parameters that we have always had.”

Despite the need to improve Mallinckrodt’s facilities, Wild said he hopes to minimize the impact that the removal of the Gargoyle and Mallinckrodt 100A could have on the many student groups that rely on those spaces.

“Even though the Gargoyle is used in a lesser capacity than some other spaces on campus such as College Hall or Tisch Commons, for the students that rely on that space, it is hard to hear that news when you haven’t had time to adjust your planning.” Wild said. “Student Union’s budgets were already due, and for groups like the Student Programming Board, Happy Hour, all of the performance groups that use Edison, or KWUR, it would have been more ideal to have had some advance time to talk with them.”

Additionally, in order to address other student concerns, Panus said that groups will have access to the same sound capabilities in other spaces on campus and that a solution to the storage issue will be worked out soon.

“As far as storage goes, I know that is still being talked through as there is a loss of storage from the Gargoyle, but I also know that they are trying to reutilize and shift what some of the current space has been,” Panus said. “We are definitely looking to find alternate spaces.”

Although administrators said they were committed to addressing the negative impacts of the Gargoyle and Mallinckrodt 100A’s removal, Wild maintained that the University’s plans to use the new space for services like Cornerstone’s Academic Mentoring Team, the Writing Center, the College Writing Program and the Title IX office offer an important opportunity to transform Mallinckrodt’s role on campus.

“[Before the DUC was built] Mallinckrodt was more of a central campus focal point,” Wild said. “Students would hang out and there would be a lot of events…However, when we built the Danforth University Center in 2008, it really changed Mallinckrodt dramatically and highlighted the disrepair that Mallinckrodt was in. Mallinckrodt, instead of becoming a destination, became more of a pass-through; and unfortunately, the usage of spaces like the Gargoyle went way down, just because we had other spaces on campus.”

Panus said she hopes to engage in dialogue with students about how her office can help them handle this transition.

“If there are groups out there that are looking for alternative spaces or if they have events that were originally something that they would use the Gargoyle for, I am happy to talk with them in person, tour spaces that we have and provide those alternatives that we do have,” Panus said. “If there is continued feedback on how we can improve some of these alternative spaces, there is definitely an open door to come by and talk through that.”

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