The newly formed University Event Management Student Events Advisory Committee hopes to demystify and streamline the space-booking process for student groups this semester.
The advisory committee is comprised of student council and governing board members from all undergraduate colleges and will meet weekly with Joseph Ricciutti, executive director of UEM, to open up communication and increase the availability of spaces for student groups.
Both UEM and the Student Advisory Committee said they hope the new relationship will simplify the booking process. Some of the things they hope to change range from clarifying confirmation emails to changing the jurisdiction of classroom booking so that the process can happen faster.
Currently, when students book a space, the confirmation email they receive is often unclear about whether or not the space is actually reserved.
“It felt more like a phone book than ... an events confirmation,” Ricciutti said about the current event confirmation email format. “There's a lot of information already on the website.”
“It only has the bare-bones information that you need, and instead of having the status like waitlisted,' rejected,' or confirmed' at the bottom of the email, we bumped it up so you have the important information right there in front of you,” said Peter Bailinson, CC '16 and Columbia College Student Council vice president for communications.
For some club leaders, even access to the booking site is an issue.
“Anytime I wanted to even look at spaces, I needed to set up a meeting with the director of student life at Hillel,” said Talia Lakritz, BC '16 and head of Jewish Women on Campus.
Concern over the lack of available space on campus means limits are placed on the number of students with permission to reserve space, and Ricciutti said the prebooking process is designed to make sure that access to University space is distributed fairly.
“The precalendaring process [and] the advance calendaring process [are] designed to give as many people access as possible—to be fair in helping to try and decide who gets the space,” he said.
One solution the advisory committee hopes to implement is opening up more classrooms as meeting spaces and streamlining the way the rooms are managed. While some classroom bookings currently go through UEM, the registrar then has to approve the reservation for UEM before the student can receive a confirmation email—a process that can sometimes take days.
“We're going to talk to the registrar's office and try and increase the inventory of student space that's directly under UEM,” Bailinson said. “So instead of UEM serving as a middleman, they can just provide those rooms.”
Another part of simplifying the booking process will involve making it easier to find out about variations in policy for different locations, as well as reducing these differences as much as possible. Popular spaces like Low Library, outdoor spaces, the Satow Room in Lerner Hall, and dorm lounges all have different usage polices.
“If I'm a sophomore and I'm just starting to get the hang of it, I can't imagine what a freshman would do looking at these policies,” Bailinson said.
UEM currently hosts a weekly meeting to help guide students through the various booking processes. Though Ricciutti said last year's attendance was low, the committee is helping to advertise this semester's meetings and hopes to increase awareness.
“If one student group comes to the meeting, and it makes their process of booking events easier, that's what it's there for,” Ricciutti said. “If the one person attending it gets it, that's what it's intended for.”
Whatever happens, Lakritz said she hopes everyone knows what they need to do to book space.
“It'd be nice if booking space in the rest of campus was easier—less steps, less people, less carrier pigeons,” Lakritz said.
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