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(Natalie Vineberg / McGill Tribune)

SSMU to close club offices this month in space reallocation

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The Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Building will be vacated this month, with the space being redesigned into bookable rooms and storage space for clubs.  The plan includes two board rooms and one multi-purpose space, as well as desk space to be used for club office hours. The fourth floor will see an increase in generalized storage space, which Kimber Bialik, vice-president (VP) Clubs and Services hopes will accommodate more clubs and their storage needs.

“Last  year, there were 35 groups that had club office space, and one of my issues with club offices is that we have over 230 groups,” Bialik said. “We’re only able to offer space to about 30 of them every year, and it really depends on who’s able to get their application in the fastest, it’s kind of an arbitrary process.”

Bialik explained that the reason for the redistribution of space was to make the space allocation process for clubs more equitable.

“The fourth floor is supposed to be a community space for student groups,” Bialik said. “It’s really great for the 30 or so who get space every year, and then the other 200 get nothing.”

McGill Students for UNICEF is among the clubs who will no longer have an office.  Maud Schram, co-president of this club, was informed of the change by Bialik in late August. Club members hope the new arrangement will be enough to accommodate all of what they previously had stored in their office.

“We never hold meetings within the office anyway—we always have Lev Bukhman,” Schram said. “Realistically, we don’t need an office.  The only time that we use an office is for office hours. We’re just going to take the locker, because that’s what we need.  But we do have a lot of stuff, so hopefully [SSMU] can accommodate clubs that need smaller lockers, versus clubs that need a lot of room.”

Genevieve Riccoboni, president of the McGill Debating Union echoed this sentiment.

“Moving forward, [it] won’t really be a problem for us, as we largely use our office for storage and small meetings — and those things we can still do with the new arrangement,” Riccoboni said. “This past year we had a shared office anyway, so it was less private.”

According to Bialik, 60 per cent of SSMU clubs filled out a survey on space put out by SSMU Clubs and Services at the end of last semester, and identified the need for increased storage as a major concern. Nevertheless, Riccoboni stated that she felt that the change in space reallocation came suddenly.

“It would definitely have been nice if clubs were consulted about it,” said Riccoboni. “I feel like it […] would have been good to know about it a bit more in advance.”

Certain clubs will be keeping their offices in order to continue to serve students.  This includes the McGill Outdoors Club, Walksafe,  Drivesafe, Queer McGill, the Sexual Assault Center of the McGill Students’ Society (SACOMSS), and the McGill University Photography Students Society (MUPSS), whose offices are classified as specialized spaces.

“Services operate their spaces very differently from clubs,” Bialik explained. “Services have very regularly-staffed office hours, most of them are open as lounges; they have lending libraries in them, so they’re just completely different from how club offices [operate].  So all the services are maintaining their offices, and it’s just the club offices that are being transitioned into more generalizable club space.”

All clubs with an office on the fourth floor have been given a deadline of Thanksgiving weekend to completely vacate their offices, so that the space can be fully converted into storage and bookable meeting rooms.

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