By Allura Morneau, Staff Reporter
Several clubs on the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) campus are being moved to new office spaces due to health, safety, accessibility, and organizational concerns. Recently Student Senate members and Center for Student Involvement (CSI) Director Kirsten Swan have been working to reassign and relocate the Computer, Journalism, Otaku and Table Gaming clubs to new office spaces.
The Officer of Club Affairs for Student Senate, Nicholas Bucci, is working closely with the clubs, Swan and facilities to decide which offices should be moved. “The Computer Club is getting most of 122 [in Olsen Student Center], and then Table Gaming is getting two rooms in the basement of the Roberts Learning Center,” explained Bucci. “The Otaku and Journalism clubs will also be getting rooms to themselves.”
Currently, the Computer Club office is located in the stairwell of the Olsen Student Center, a space which is not handicapped accessible. The Journalism and Otaku Clubs currently have cubicles in room 122 of the student center. “122 is the office space for a bunch of clubs, and we’re taking most of them out, and we’re going to put computer club up along the back wall,” said Bucci. He also stated that the Computer Club will be sharing the room with Students for a Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) and Alpha Phi Omega (APO).
Student Senate is working with the clubs to help provide new furniture and/or equipment needed for the new spaces. “Each club can write a proposal telling us what they want for furniture, and that will go through senate, and we’ll probably approve it,” said Bucci. “Senate will pay for it. So whatever they need, it’s on us. Normally, the clubs are only allowed to have one proposal a semester, but this won’t count.”
Swan explained that special funds have been allocated by Senate to cover these costs. “Funding for the data lines and funding for office furniture will come from the Student Senate reserve account,” said Swan. “Data lines will be outsourced (installed by professionals) and office items will come in the form of a proposal to Financial Affairs committee and then on to General Assembly.”
The move will be especially beneficial for the Table Gaming Club currently located in the basement of Franklin Hall. Jasmine Heckler, president of the club, explained that there are many problems with the space, some of which are possible health or safety hazards. “Currently, the floor is leaking. We have a huge puddle of water in the corner of the room,” she said. “There’s exposed wiring, mold, and cracks in the walls where you can see outside. The stairs are rotting, and people with heart conditions can’t come down here because of the poor air quality. Also there’s no wheelchair accessibility.” In addition to the health and safety concerns, the room’s poor condition can also be costly for the club. “Books and other things sometimes accumulate water damage and mold,” explained Heckler. She is very excited about the prospect of replacing the club’s broken and moldy furniture. The club plans to request new chairs, tables and some office/storage equipment.
A major reason for rearranging the club office spaces is to ensure that the university is in compliance with American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations requiring equal access for handicapped individuals. Last semester the Computer Club organized a petition to request a new space that was accessible to all students and Farmington community members.
Computer Club President Aaron Miller is eager to move a new room. Space has become an issue for the club, their current office is quite small and has become crowded as the club has grown. “The room is too small for the amount of people we usually have in there. There’s too many people during busy hours, so we couldn’t have the amount of computers we’d like to have set up,” said Miller. “It’s just cramped in there usually.”
Miller believes that the move will solve many of these problems, particularly accessibility. “I do like that it’s handicap accessible,” said Miller. “It’s a step up from where we were.” Sharing the space with other clubs will be an adjustment. “The fact that we have to share it with other clubs is a bit of a drag,” said Miller, “but we’ll make it work.”
Telonious Lichter, President of the Otaku Club, explained that space is also an issue for the Otaku Club. The ability to store manga and movies is important to the Otaku Club because they lend them to students who otherwise wouldn’t have access to them. “The cubicle that we have currently has two storage lockers, one of which is very full and heavy, and the other is very bulky,” said Lichter. “When you combine that with the desk, we only have about a third of the floor space to actually walk around in.”
Journalism Club Treasurer and Editor of the Farmington Flyer Cadi LaCourse has already seen the new office for the Journalism Club, room 10 in Roberts. “I really like it. It’s a lot bigger. The space, I would say, is going to make printing the Flyer and overall organization a lot easier,” said LaCourse. “There’s a lot more counter space and outlets. Kristen Swan, Senate and facilities have been really great offering help with the move, preparing the space for us and even new furnishings!”
The Journalism Club is currently one of the smaller cubicles in room 122. In 2012 the club started printing the Farmington Flyer themselves rather than sending it off to be printed. Since then the space has become increasingly crowded. “It was fine when we had the paper printed professionally, but now that we print it ourselves it’s too cramped,” said LaCourse. “It’s difficult to find room to organize and fold the papers.”
There isn’t enough room for Journalism Club members to fold the papers in their cubicle so they currently use the table in the area of the room shared with other clubs. The printing process can also be noisy and often has to be done while other clubs are using other parts of the room. “We don’t want to interfere with the other clubs in the common space when we’re printing and folding the papers,” said LaCourse. “I think having our own space will be beneficial for us and other clubs as well.”
She feels that the new offices will be good for everyone involved “I think it’s a great way to utilize the extra space on campus, because as far as I know those rooms have been sitting empty for some time now,” said LaCourse.