Clubs struggle for space

[Alexandra Gomes]

Many student leaders are concerned about the limited space dedicated to club use for practices, meetings and storage.

There are approximately 50 student-run clubs every year, according to Claire Ostrander, director of student involvement and leadership development. While four of those clubs have offices of their own – SGA, SUAB, WDJM and The Gatepost – there are only three designated rooms for student club use.

“I believe that we will always need more,” Ostrander said of club space. “We have a very limited supply of space on campus that’s used by many different constituent groups, so we compete with academic and other departments on campus.”

The three designated club rooms – Club Room 1, Club Room 2 and the Paul T. Murphy Room – are all located in the McCarthy Center.

All have been renamed and renumbered since the original Club Room 1, located in SGA’s office, was eliminated and the Paul T. Murphy Room, formally known as club room 3, was revamped and rededicated.

Club Room 2 is not a meeting space that can be reserved, according to Ostrander. However, the room does contain furniture for “casual club gatherings.” The room is accessible by I.D. access to all club officers and serves as a place where clubs can create posters and advertisements for events, as well as store supplies in lockers inside the room.

Clubs can request locker space, said Ostrander, and the locker space is re-evaluated year-to-year as club needs change.

This year, SGA has taken over responsibility for the clubrooms and lockers, according to SGA’s administrative assistant Nikki Curley. Before, Jill Hayward, SILD’s administrative assistant, managed the club rooms.

“We realized that it made more sense to be managed by SGA,” said Curley. “If people have complaints, or concerns and questions, they can come in to see me instead of sending them one more floor up to talk to Jill.”

There are 70 shelves in the lockers in all, according to Curley, and SGA will be re-allocating the shelves this year and “cleaning up” Club Room 2.  Each club will receive one shelf, and can request more as needed.

She added SGA senators will be checking in on the club rooms and maintaining an inventory of supplies.

The designated club rooms are not the only rooms student clubs are allowed to reserve on campus, said Ostrander. Some academic clubs prefer to meet in classrooms affiliated with their majors.

She added the events students are sponsoring often require large venues, such as the Forum and DPAC. “That’s a limited commodity,” she said.

Ostrander said moving forward, she would like to see the University consider adding more function spaces when renovating old buildings or constructing new ones.

SGA Vice President Patrick O’Connor said the club space the University has is “good. We try to make the best of what we have. But also at the same time, you can always have more, especially with the campus expanding so much.”

O’Connor said SGA has been focusing on improving the designated club spaces for the last couple of years.

Former SGA president Dan Costello “completely revamped” and rededicated the Paul T. Murphy room, according to O’Connor.

We have spent money on new supplies every single year,” he said. “We’re always trying to figure out new ways to reorganize and make sure the clubs have all the space they need, and to make sure our space is used in the most efficient way.”

He added SGA has also run into issues when reserving space on campus. Even though they reserve their rooms early in the year, O’Connor said they do still get bumped from their regular room “pretty often.”

Rylan O’Day, president of Pride Alliance, said Pride has had problems booking spaces for events.

Pride hosts a table in the McCarthy Center every year for National Coming Out Day, according to O’Day. While this year they were able to book a table on the actual day, there have been many years when there was not one available.

“In the past, we’ve had to push the day a few days back or a few days forward just to have a table,” he said. “So people will be like, ‘Oh, is today National Coming Out Day?’ and we have to be like, ‘Oh, no, it’s a few days from now, but this is what we got.’”

Additionally, Pride is in the process of booking a speaker to talk to students about body positivity. “I made a reservation for DPAC, and it went through, and then I got an email a couple days later saying they accidentally double-booked the space and we got bumped,” said O’Day.

He added he is not sure whether Pride’s event was delayed because they booked it last or because the other group was “higher priority.”

The event was initially scheduled for Oct. 18, and was then rescheduled for Tuesday, Nov.15. It was moved a final time to Nov. 16.

“We wanted to do it on a Tuesday because that’s when we meet, so it gives a reason for all our members to go. They don’t have to be anywhere else,” he said.

O’Day said as soon as club space for this semester was available in 25live at the end of last year, he started booking rooms. He tried to reserve a larger space than their usual meeting room, but the club was bumped from that room when the University scheduled a class in it.

“It was a classroom, but it’s a classroom that’s widely used by clubs,” he said. After Pride was notified at the beginning of this semester that the room they had booked was unavailable, they were given the Paul T. Murphy Room, their old meeting room.

There are many classrooms that aren’t in use because they were put on hold for academics, according to O’Day. He said by the time clubs are notified that these rooms are available, clubs have already settled for different spaces.

O’Day said club locker space is also an issue for many clubs.  While Pride has more than enough space, and have told SGA they would be willing to give some up to other clubs, many clubs struggle to fit all their supplies inside their lockers and keep their items from going missing.

“A lot of clubs hold big things in their lockers – posters, promo items, things that cost money, and for some people they’re going missing and that’s not OK,” he said. “Unless you’re on a club e-Board or you have an e-Board that knows the policies of Club Room 2, everybody thinks it’s a free-for-all.”

Holly Fallon, the Comic Book Club president, said her club has run out of storage space in Club Room 2, and their stuff has spilled over onto the Equestrian Club’s shelf.

The Comic Book Club provides members with a comic book library, which contains specific comics for members to use during club meetings, said Fallon. The club is also trying to obtain a cart to wheel the library over to their meeting room in Hemenway.

“I think it’s a little silly that there’s only two spaces that you can actually really be in in McCarthy,” she said.

Fallon said classrooms should all be open for clubs to use, depending on the time. She added using 25live, the school’s reservation system, is “confusing.”

“There are spaces that are available and open. It’s not labeled very well in 25live,” she said. She added SILD should go over 25live during the club officer workshop “instead of having a man just kind of yell at you.”

She added the workshop wasn’t very helpful because she had to visit the SILD office and “bug them about it” to find the information she needed.

Julia Barrone, president of the Equestrian Club, said their locker space is “definitely cramped.”

She added they often have to fold up and bend their posters to fit them in, and they often find themselves “squeezing” their promo items inside.

Cynthia Nelson, president of the Craft Club, said some of her groups supplies have been used or even stolen from Club Room 2, where they are stored.

“A lot of clubs have been using our stuff,” she said. “Because it’s crafting supplies where people make posters, they think that it’s all the same crafting supplies, but no, this is actually stuff that we’ve spent money on with our club money. “

Nelson said the door to their locker is broken, so locking it is not an option.

She added expanding the storage to the other club rooms would alleviate some of the issues pertaining to Club Room 2.

“One thing I thought would be great is if we could actually keep our stuff in Club Room 1, and keep it under a lock,” she said. “That’s the room we use anyways for our crafts. We have a lot of stuff because our club is about making stuff.”

Melina Bourdeau, alumna of the Class of 2016 and former member of “The Vagina Monologues,” said when she participated in the Monologues, the group had to split up in order to practice their lines, thus requiring more rooms in which to practice.

Since there were not enough rooms available, the women had to practice in the hallways and stairwells, according to Bourdeau. One year, the play had to be put on in the Heineman Ecumenical Center because DPAC was already booked.

“It was very awkward for some of us to be saying content such as the monologue ‘Cunt’ in the ecumenical center,” she said.

The Hilltop Players are no strangers to space issues when it comes to rehearsing, either. Tyler Demoura, alumnus of the Class of 2016 and former member of The Hilltop Players, said Hilltop was “upset for years” because they had to practice in the basement of Hemenway Hall.

However, after the Hemenway Labs were built, the club was able to move all their rehearsals upstairs.

“To a Hilltopper, it’s unthinkable that we wouldn’t get DPAC for rehearsals, but to an administrator, it makes sense because there’s so many different activities that need to be put in the same locations,” Demoura said. “It’s tough when you have three clubs and an administrative group all vying for the same location.”

Demoura said one solution would be to build a new performing arts center.

“It’s a tall order,” he said. “But with the success of Hilltop, the Dance Team and the new theater department, FSU is due for a performing arts building.”

DPAC is the only “prime” room in which to put on a show, said Demoura, and for Hilltop’s rehearsals, they would “preferably” need the space every day.

According to Demoura, DPAC used to be a lecture hall, but it was refurbished and relabeled as a performing arts center. Additionally, it has no “proper” backstage.

“They could solve a lot of reservation problems and end the club performing space problem simply if there were a second building,” he said.

He added the new performing arts center could be utilized for SUAB events as well, resulting in better shows.

With all the construction on campus, Demoura said he would like to see administrators start to focus on student centers.

“Club life is huge at FSU,” he said. “Bigger, perhaps, and more influencing than they know at the present time.”