Student Organizations often Struggle to Schedule Events on Campus

By Cameron Crowell /// Arts Editor

At the end of last semester, the Student Organizations Committee held a meeting with various student group representatives, including those from Associated Students of Lewis & Clark, Feminist Student Union, KLC and Common Ground, to talk about “space allocation.” This was a discussion designed to teach student organizations how to apply and develop a space for meetings and student-sponsored events, but it launched into a vocalization of a new issue: without a space specifically designated for students, clubs are at the mercy of administrative priority when trying to plan an event.

After large annual events—like symposia, sporting and admissions events—get first priority, the small amount of space left makes it difficult for smaller student organizations to find a venue that does not conflict. Even if there is space available to host an event, an empty venue can be denied use if it conflicts with events with higher priority.

“We prefer not to cross-program against events, such as Bill Nye the Science Guy. When Lewis & Clark has a signature event, we want everyone to have the chance to attend,” said Director of Conferences and Events Sherron Stonecypher said. “The short answer is: annual long standing events first, important administrative and academic requests second, then all other requests on a first come, first serve basis.”

In this regard, some of the more heavily funded groups have the advantage of hosting recurrent events. Despite a $33,000 budget cut (from $103,000 to $70,000), CAB receives $25,000 more than the next highest funded organization, College Outdoors, according to the 2014-15 SOC allocations report.

“We have not had a lot of bureaucratic hoops– you just reserve a space with Conferences & Events,” CAB Chair Sierra Adler (‘16) said. “Events are scheduled on the same day all the time and it’s never really been a problem.”

However, some organizations don’t feel the same way. For them, finding available times that do not conflict with these events is exceedingly difficult, in addition to the often lengthy bureaucratic process that goes along with bringing a person or group to campus.

“We have so little event space on campus, and Lewis & Clark tends to lend it out to people who are not students,” KLC Events Manager Emily VanKoughnett (‘15) said. “If I want to throw a show on a weekend, most days are booked. I find it really frustrating at times because I have to be respectful that there is a basketball game going on, even though I know those are not the same two crowds that would go.”

While it is home to some student spaces, Templeton Campus Center is also widely occupied by administration and faculty. The offices of the Registrar, Financial Aid, Student and Departmental Account Services, Conferences and Events, Housing and Orientation all are located inside Templeton.

In contrast, Reed College’s Gray Campus Center has a “Student Union” specifically dedicated to student activities like “formal dances, concerts, coffeehouse meetings,” according to Reed’s website. The difference between Templeton’s event spaces (Stamm, Trail Room, etc.) and Reed’s event space (SU) is that Templeton’s spaces frequently host events geared toward alumni and non-students.

“We’ve worked with other groups before—FSU, SEED, Rusty Nail, CAB—but what this campus can use more of is knowing what resources are present, and how we can share those resources between groups, because we need to learn at this point that administration is not going to show us how to do that,” VanKoughnett (‘15) said. “Honestly, what we need is an actual Student Union with a performance space in it that can host all of the things we want to do.”

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