News | Administration

Urban planner helping to analyze student space needs

An accomplished urban planner has been hired to advise the Morningside Student Space Initiative, the student group working to make more rooms available, simplify the room-booking process for student groups, and increase students’ interest in space needs. Kristina Ford, a professor of professional practice at the School of International and Public Affairs, will help the group analyze the results of a student survey on space from last spring as well as consider partnerships with neighborhood institutions for space on the Manhattanville campus, University President Lee Bollinger said Friday. Ford, who served as director of city planning in New Orleans from 1992 to 2000, works half-time in the administration to help students become more involved and has been eager to help, Bollinger said. MSSI, which is a subcommittee of the University Senate’s Student Affairs Committee, had its first meeting with Ford in early September and met with her again last week. Ford said in an email that, because she and the group are still working out what exactly her role will entail, she did not want to answer questions. “It’s been perfectly reasonable that it would take an entire semester to get up to speed on everything that’s happened,” University Senator and SAC co-chair Eduardo Santana, CC ’13, said. MSSI members hope to use Ford’s extensive background in urban planning to inform their recommendations to the administration. Santana added that the group is considering establishing a standing committee within the administration to manage all space concerns. MSSI has spent the semester working on formulating a database of all available spaces on campus and hopes to finalize it by the end of the semester. “The goal is to reallocate the space to better meet everyone’s needs,” Santana said. The group has also been working with the University Senate’s executive committee’s task force on Manhattanville and the Campus Planning and Physical Development Committee—both all-faculty or administrator bodies—to help further engage students in the planning of the Manhattanville campus. “The large scope of MSSI calls for much more help from across campus, so we have gladly accepted help from non-senators who have expressed interest in working on the initiative,” Santana said. Because the availability of space and the ease of reserving it is one of the most pressing student issues, MSSI members hope to establish a meaningful way for students to communicate with administrators about space. “It’s important to us that everyone knows that we’re doing this for students to get them engaged and excited by the Manhattanville project and to know that this is an important topic,” Santana said. “We have no intention of making decisions behind closed doors.” news@columbiaspectator.com

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