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Furniture troubles rack the Commons

Logistic woes mar union of UMBC and new furniture

Currently, there is a stark difference in the appearance of the Student Organization Space now compared to the beginning of the semester, due to a significant lack of furniture for students to use.

Last year, Student Government Association (SGA) Senators Josh Massey and Sarah Lilly noticed that the existing furniture in the Student Organization Space was worn-out and falling apart. Prompted by SGA advisor Craig Berger, the two started working towards an initiative to order new furniture for the student use.

According to Massey, a sophomore computer engineering major, “it was really challenging getting the furniture and logistics.” Among the challenges that they faced, the most significant was ordering the furniture itself.

“Because the University is a state public entity, Maryland Correctional Enterprises, a company run by the state prison system, has first rights on any furniture order,” Massey said. “The poor quality of MCE’s furniture, combined with their unnecessarily long wait time, led us to purchase from a company called KI, who the University has a standing contract with.”

“The issue was that MCE had to approve this purchase, which took about a month,” said Massey, “and once the purchase was approved, MCE decided that they would still have a stake in it by having their people assemble the pieces provided by KI.” With the added steps and extra parties involved, the process was made more complicated and involved.

Afterwards, Massey and fellow SGA Senate members were set to announce that the order had been placed and the furniture was going to be delivered to the school. Unfortunately, after the order was placed there was no further communication with KI or MCE.

“The University made every effort to be as accountable as possible,” Massey said. “I would stand in [the Director of The Commons]’s office while he contacted our representatives at MCE, the same response came every time – nothing.”

Massey and Regier assumed that the furniture would be delivered over break as expected, but the furniture delivery was mis-delivered and delayed. In order to move into his new office, Governor Hogan suspended the current Prison Fleet operations and used these resources to transport his belongings.

In the meantime, Massey and Regier have been working to speed up the delivery of the new furniture, which includes new coordinated couches and chairs and whiteboard tables. They are now expecting the delivery and furniture to arrive on Thursday, Feb. 12.