posted 2012-02-17 17:21:56

USG Halts Decision to Allocate Club Spaces

Kimberly Devi Milner

Associate News Editor 

Last week Hunter’s Undergraduate Student Government (USG) held an impromptu forum to discuss the tension broiling between Hunter’s numerous clubs and the Student Space Allocation Committee (SSAC) processing their applications for campus space. At this time, the SSAC-- comprised of Hunter administrators and USG representatives--has halted the reallocation process affecting the college’s 146 clubs, as many disgruntled club members have united against what they see as an undemocratic process.

On the Feb. 9th USG meeting, Hunter Student Clubs United (HSCU)--the unchartered group that formed out of resistance to the reallocation process and represents over 30 clubs filled the room. Assistant Director of Student Activities, Teneia Wooten, and USG Cultural Affairs Commissioner, Jarret Freeman, faced immediate dissension as the group citied the lack of transparency of the reallocation process, and demanded sweeping reorganization.

“We think there were a lot of losers and few winners,” said International Socialist Organization (ISO) member William Russell, regarding the room assignments. “We can have a process where everyone can feel like a winner. We want a club union,” said the masters’ student, vocalizing HSCU’s primary demand.

The coalition of student clubs that butted heads with the USG panel evolved shortly after SSAC disclosed room assignments last December. Concerned that longstanding clubs were in the process of being relocated or evicted, HSCU argued that student organizations were better equipped to manage club affairs, and decide how to share the campus’ limited club space--most of which is located in the Thomas Hunter building.

However, Wooten expressed fear that such a union could not seriously accommodate new clubs needing space. “You are a small part of the clubs on campus,” said Wooten to the clubs present. Freeman explained that several club presidents who did not check their Hunter emails and subsequently did not respond to his inquiries might have suffered unfavorable room allocations.

The USG panelist varied in support of the club’s demands, and gave no definitive commitment. Wooten received a collective statement of disapproval signed by many clubs.

Most of the clubs present expressed disapproval of SSAC, and of USGs bureaucratic relation to its clubs. “This is not just about space allocation--we want to be recognized as a body of our own,” said Journalism and Political Science double major Venetia Biney. Biney added, “If nobody comes to USG meetings it's not a problem of individuals – you need to acknowledge that it's a structural problem.”

The HSCU member received a round of applause as she expressed overall frustrations with the committee. “It’s not just [SSAC’s] lack of transparency, it’s their lack of empathy--to say we’re going to treat this as a matter of business.”

The clubs immediate demand was that the relocation process be stopped. The Latino Literature club who did not receive a room assignment was often invoked as the potential outcome of allowing SSAC to progress.

Several USG senators drafted a resolution to halt the reallocation process, pledging support for the student union shortly after the forum. It was submitted to USG Executive Board the following day and rejected. USG plans to deliberate with the SSAC and the Hunter administration further on the matter.