Anderson could lose its lounges

Anderson Hall is tentatively set to lose its formal lounge, conference room and den next year if Housing and Dining Programs, the University office that runs the residence halls, meal services, and EagleBuck$, decides to move there from its current home in the Rockwood Building.

Julie Weber, executive director of Housing and Dining Programs, said her office had outgrown its current home and the move made sense given her staff's already large presence on the first floor of Anderson Hall. Weber said that although the common meeting space would be lost, use of the lounges was actually light and alternatives such as the floor lounges and the Letts Formal Lounge would remain available.

"We submitted a proposal last year to expand into the first floor of Anderson, our logic being that we have a lot of resources there already," Weber said. "One of the things we studied was use of that space by student groups, and it's actually pretty small."

Housing and Dining Programs currently has a suite of offices on the first floor of Anderson that houses three resident directors and other administrative staff.

Weber said while her staff just barely fit in their existing office next door to the Public Safety building they have recently taken on added responsibilities and any additional hires would be too much to accommodate. The Rockwood Building lacks a lobby, meeting space, or sufficient office space for the staff it already has, she said.

Some staff members also speak with students regarding confidential matters-medical or financial situations-and the Rockwood Building is not able to provide them with sufficient privacy, she said.

"We do know we need more space than we have," Weber said. "If we think us moving provides better use to our students then that's the paramount thing."

Though the move is likely to occur within the next year, nothing has been decided yet, Weber said.

"We haven't really discussed this real widely ... We haven't fully discussed it with all the student leaders that we would need to, but we would need them to understand where we're coming from," Weber said. "There are lots of issues that we need to engage students in before making a formal decision."

Gail Hanson, vice president of Campus Life-the office that oversees the housing office-said the move to Anderson was likely and funds for the move had already been allocated, though she added, "nothing is done 'til it's done."

"Rockwood no longer works," Hanson said, "and most of the [Anderson] lounge's use has been administrative in nature."

Hanson, like Weber, said student input and approval was to some degree required before any move could be made.

"The Residence Hall Association and others clearly need to be aboard on this," Hanson said.

George Melissinos, president of RHA-an organization that facilitates programming in the dorms and works as a liaison between students and the administration-said he had not been contacted but his group opposes any such move.

"I don't like the idea of more Housing and Dining here [in Anderson Hall] because people see that as 'administration' and this is where we [students] live. It's not offices ... a residence hall is not the right place for more administrative staff than is necessary," Melissinos said.

Melissinos, himself a resident of Leonard Hall, said that in the past two years the University has taken the formal lounges in Centennial and Leonard Halls from students and that no more lounges should be closed.

The Leonard Formal Lounge has been home to the Child Development Center for the past two years since the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' arsenic cleanup forced the closure of the office's facility on the South Side of campus. The Centennial Formal Lounge was also closed and became the new Admissions Welcome Center.

"RHA is very cognizant that these lounge spaces are being taken ... if lounge spaces will continually be taken then that is not something we'd be in favor of," Melissinos said.

Hanson reported that there are no current plans for the Rockwood Building if Housing and Dining were to move to Anderson.

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