SG President advocates for more student space in MGC

Student Government President Sophia Wirth is currently campaigning to turn the third floor of the Mary Graydon Center into a space devoted to student life, with an overall goal of making MGC a student union building.

The third floor previously housed the School of Communication before the opening of the new Mckinley building in the spring of 2014.

Currently the third floor of MGC is being used as “swing space” for displaced offices from construction on campus on the law campus and various other academic departments, according to Senior Director of the University Center & Student Activities Michael Elmore.

Wirth’s short-term goal for the semester is to compose a report and present it to the administration on behalf of the student body, Wirth said. She hopes to lay down the foundations for the conversations about what will go on the third floor and more specifically in the student center.

“Our goal is to have confirmation from the University administration by the end of this year that the third floor will be given to student space,” Wirth said.

Currently, Wirth’s progress has included talking with administration like Vice President for Campus Life Gail Hanson and focusing on ways to collect data that shows the need for a student union building

“[Hanson] has proven to be a real advocate in terms of student space and so we are hoping that the data that we have collected from the fall SG survey, along with qualitative and quantitative research that we have started to do with club leaders and other organizations,” Wirth said.

When the report and data are finalized Hanson will be the presenting the information to the University administration, which Wirth said cannot be done without proving student support.

“We really need to organize all the student voices that are calling for this building to go to students so that the arguments for why the space is needed can be presented in a meaningful way,” Wirth said.

The data being presented will include a fall survey that was recently conducted asking students and club leaders how they feel about space and its availability on campus.

The data was not ready at time of publication.

A source of qualitative information has been student round table discussions with club and organization leaders through the Department of Student Voice, according to Wirth. These discussions will serve as focus groups to help student government get a better understanding of what exactly the need is.

Greek life is one of the main organizations demonstrating a need for more space. They are one of the fastest growing student organizations on campus, currently containing 36 recognized chapters, according to Wirth.

One of the problems organizations run into comes from being kicked out of spaces, Wirth said. Organizations and clubs must request space through the University Event Scheduling, but the University can bump clubs and organizations at the last minute when the University decided there was an event that took priority over the student organization.

University Event Scheduling could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.

The discussion about what is to go on the third floor has yet to happen, but Wirth speculated that it could include a lounge and more swing space for clubs to hold meetings and events.

SG would also like to move the Student Wellness Center from next to the Student Health Center, into a more centralized location such as MGC according to Wirth. The need for Sexualt Assault Prevention Coordinator Daniel Rappaport’s services have increased and the Wellness Center itself is in need of more space, including an office for the new Coordinator of Victim Advocacy Services according to Rappaport.

In opposition to the student center, the University is also receiving pressure to keep academic offices there and to maintain that space for academic offices, according to Elmore. SG agrees the offices should be there until East Campus is completed but not indefinitely, Wirth said.

Both Elmore and Wirth have said that students will be able to get the building if they are able to demonstrate the need.

“The administration is most likely to dedicate this building to students if they hear student voices calling for it,” Wirth said.

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