SGA: Barnard Wants To Accommodate Space Needs

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The other kind of open space.

Barnard Bureau Chief Dassi Karp reports on last night’s Student Government Association meeting, which might have been even more boring than usual. Intrigued? Read on.

This student guest thing has gotten out of hand. At last night’s meeting, SGA welcomed not one but ten representatives of performing arts groups to present complaints and questions about practice and performance space on campus to Anthony Otero, Associate Director, Reservations and Scheduling, for Events Management. Everybody was polite and respectful–the students asked questions, and Otero sincerely tried to give them answers. But do you know what happens when you put ten theater and music student in a room and give them a microphone? They talk. A lot. (What do you call a collective of performers? A gaggle? A murder? A cappella?) Each of the gathered students had a chance to site their problems with the lack of space on campus, and they ended up repeating each other quite a bit.

One of the main issues brought up was that reservable Barnard spaces tend to close by ten pm, making it hard for groups that want to rehearse in the evenings. Otero explained that this allows facilities to come in and ready the space for the next day–otherwise it wouldn’t get cleaned. The students also mentioned some Barnard rooms–Held Hall, James room, Ella Weed room, Weber lounge–that they say used to be much more available. This too, according to Otero, is an issue of cleaning time. The Ella Weed room (which everyone oddly kept speaking about as if it was a person, saying things like “I would like to address Ella Weed again,”) especially, he explained, must be kept clean because it is used by admissions to show prospective students. I say take them to some random seminar room on the fourth floor of Barnard hall instead, the more strange posters and peeling paint the better–show them what it is really like.

Other complaints had to do with the reduction of space due to the building of the Milstein Center, and questions about what will happen next fall, when the library (fingers crossed!) opens. “I have no idea what those rooms are going to be used for,” said Otero who seems not so pleased about being kept out of the loop. Unclear, though, if anyone knows. Maybe we’ve just stuck a fake-wood-paneled building in the middle of campus without completely figuring out what we’re going to do with it.

Some shade was thrown at the Barnard Dance Department, which only allows dance majors to reserve studios. “They control the space, they create the rules,” said Otero. Similar sentiments were expressed about the music department, which controls the pianos, and visual arts, which controls some of the classrooms in Diana. In short: Events Management wants to help student groups get the space they need, but are mostly unable to do anything as of now.

SGA members had a few questions, the most helpful coming from Rep for Arts and Culture Chloe Morris, who suggested “expanding the definition of what a rehearsal space is” and working together to come up with creative solutions. On the whole, though, everyone just seemed too tired to have the same conversation about lack of space, transparency, and communication at Barnard yet again.

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