Scheduling events has never been easy. Last December, the Columbia College Student Council passed a resolution to create the University Event Management Student Events Advisory Committee in order to respond to space issues brought up by students. With issues ranging from a malfunctioning and infrequently updated website to a lack of communication between administrative offices, the space-booking process has long been a problem for students across all four undergraduate schools.
At the beginning of last semester, University Event Management launched weekly afternoon classes to clarify the space-booking process for students and help to access, navigate, and read what can be a complicated website. However, these classes have had low attendance, and problems still persist. While educating students new to the space-booking process can be beneficial in ensuring that all student groups are able to reserve rooms, the Student Events Advisory Committee should focus more on reassessing the way space is being allocated and managed.
We agree with many of the goals listed in the resolution passed by CCSC and those suggested by students: opening up more classroom space by establishing a working relationship between UEM and the Office of the Registrar, allowing space-bookings in Hamilton before 8 p.m., creating an aggregate space database, holding student groups more accountable for the spaces booked, and encouraging UEM to check up on those spaces.
UEM restrictions in booking classroom space create a disorderly culture in which student organizations often have to explore campus in the hopes of finding an empty room. Underutilized classroom space is one of the biggest problems for student groups because there’s not an organized way of reallocating it. However, checks also need to be placed on students in order to prevent booked spaces from going unused. One possibility is a check-in system that asks students if they’d still like to reserve the space a week before their event. If student groups were then allowed to book rooms with less than a week’s notice, this would ensure that space could be used by those who need it. UEM must also do its part by holding random check-ins to make sure the space is being used and organizations are making consistent, valuable use of the space they’ve booked.
According to the UEM executive director, Joseph Ricciutti, the precalendaring process and the advance calendaring process are meant to give all groups a fair chance at booking space. However, it is worth questioning whether the precalendaring process is truly effective for all kinds of events or only for large-scale events and weekly meetings. It is not possible for some smaller student groups, at the time of precalendering, to know exactly when the following semester’s events will take place. As a result, many find themselves being assigned spaces for dates that they guessed would be useful months before, but that actually conflict with their schedules—reservations that might have been useful for other organizations.
As the SEAC continues its talks with UEM administrators and seeks the opinions of students on what changes would help the space-booking process, we encourage the governing boards to keep in mind the needs of all kinds of campus organizations. To this end, we believe that the representatives of the governing boards on the SEAC should be those who are most familiar with a diverse range of student organization needs.
With some substantive changes to make events scheduling more flexible, student groups could manage space more efficiently—a must in these tight quarters.
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