The campus community, including leaders of UMBC’s Student Government Association (SGA), has recently been drawing attention to the issue of space on campus.
A particularly important space-related issue that the UMBC community faces is the lack of representation from actual students on UMBC’s Space Management Committee. While there is a representative for student affairs, this individual is not a student. To this end, SGA plans on eventually having a representative on the committee.
Meghan Lynch, a senior political science major and the vice president for student organizations for SGA, offered her input on this issue, expressing frustration over the lack of a direct student voice on the committee and mentioning, “I am incredibly passionate about working on this issue and consider it one of my main priorities.” She also noted SGA’s “critical” need for someone who can report back to the student government following committee discussions about space on campus.
One of the objectives mentioned in UMBC’s official Strategic Plan is to “expand the amount, type and utilization of informal space on and off campus that is available to students” for the purposes of collaboration, interaction, and recreation. However, no concrete plan or vision has been introduced thus far with regards as to how this will be done.
At UMBC, student organizations and clubs have faced setbacks with securing suitable and appropriate spaces for meetings or events. Due to this shortage of space, many student organizations, such as dance or cultural clubs, have been competing with each other for space in shared areas. These include the Commons’ “Main Street,” the hallways of the University Center and even areas outside of the buildings.
Lynch expressed concern about the use of the Commons, stating, “As someone who advocates for all student organizations, I feel that the Commons is both over-utilized and under-utilized.” She notes, “places such as the game room and Flat Tuesdays are used repeatedly by a small number of students,” adding, “given how large these areas are, they could be used in a way that addresses critical needs on campus… We don’t want any group to feel kicked out, but when needs are not being met in classrooms, or you can’t walk through the first floor of the UC because groups dance there, then I think it is high-time to start analyzing what is needed.”
As a way for the community to give their input, SGA is holding a session from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 26 on the stairs of the University Center to listen to concerns about campus space. Organizations and individual students are encouraged to stop by and give their stories on the matter.