SSC concerns surface in SGA meeting

Two organizations cite incidents regarding student center use

Published by Hayden Schultz, Date: March 18, 2024
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Two organizations during Monday night’s SGA meeting demonstrated concern about separate incidents regarding the Smith Student Center (SSC).

The University Program Board (UPB) Director of Concerts Luke Brahler and the Panhellenic Council Vice President of Communications Mykaleigh Funk brought forth comments about decisions affecting their respective organization’s ability to operate in the SSC.

Other happenings included approval of additional organizations on campus, swearing in of a senator and consideration of a preparedness and safety council.

UPB fall concert reservation

Brahler spoke on behalf of the organization regarding a denial to reserve the SSC ballroom for a concert in November during the fall 2024 semester.

He said, via email last Wednesday, the Director of Student Center and Conference Services Deb Schell said the annual concert disrupts the activities of the student center for “almost two days and takes way from other clubs and organization trying to reserve the ballroom” and the ballroom is “not the appropriate space to hold small concerts.”

Brahler said the claim regarding disruptions taking two days made in the email is “inherently false.”

He cited UPB’s handling of the 2022 fall concert featuring B.o.B as an example of how UPB is not disruptive to the SSC by using back entrances and taking less than two days to setup.

“We feel that this decision is misguided and should be brought to the attention of SGA as our performance grade stage was purchased by SGA specifically for concerts in the ballroom,” Brahler said.

Brahler said the ballroom is the only suitable location for the fall concert and denial of access does not allow fulfillment of UPB’s mission, an organization directly funded by student activity fees.

Brahler also noted student activity fees may rise after a motion passed in SGA’s Feb. 19 meeting. The proposed auxiliary fee increase’s integration is subject to additional approval by the Council of Trustees before implementation.

According to Brahler, the organization was offered a meeting with Deb Schell, director of student center conference services. He said UPB intends to accept and asked SGA to help represent UPB in the upcoming meeting.

Schell responded to a request for comment via email and confirmed they “would be happy to meet with any organization who has concerns about an upcoming event or our building guidelines.”

“We responded on Feb. 28, 2024, that we had put a hold on those dates. We also voiced our concerns regarding having a concert in the Smith Student Center ballroom due to the space not being equipped or built for concerts but is the perfect venue for comedians or speakers,” Schell said.

“Depending on the setup of a concert, often times stairwells are blocked, service hallways/emergency exits have tables and chairs set up in them which is a safety concern. Also, during concerts, it is common for the light fixtures in the ballroom ceiling to fall out and dangle from the ceiling which could potentially fall on a student attending the concert. The Student Center staff have contacted the Director and Assistant Director of Student Engagement and Leadership to request to meet to discuss the request for space,” Schell said.

Brahler also said other groups such as the Panhellenic Council and Interfraternity Council have “faced similar problems with usage of the student center.”

Panhellenic Council formal recruitment event

The Panhellenic Council’s Vice President of Communication Mykaleigh Funk spoke on behalf of the Panhellenic Council and Interfraternity Council regarding concerns about a separate situation between authorities in the SSC and the Panhellenic Council.

During Panhellenic’ s annual formal recruitment event in the SSC, Funk said Members of the Panhellenic Executive Team, The Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life and multiple chapter members were “berated and scolded” for their “improper use of student center furniture.”

Funk stated the improper use was in reference to moving chairs to “better accommodate the women in the room and to provide space during recruitment.”

“The Panhellenic community was threatened with the possibility that the Smith Student Center would no longer permit us to hold formal recruitment at this venue again,” Funk said.

According to Funk, Director Schell collected images from CCTV footage and called the Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life to “scold her on her proper behavior when using the student center.”

Schell also responded to a request for comment regarding statements made by the Panhellenic Council.

“Numerous correspondences were communicated to the Assistant Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life regarding the setup of this event. It was communicated that we did not have ample space to store all 300 conference room chairs from the rooms. As in prior years, we communicated to them that the chairs would be stacked and would remain in the rooms since we did not have the space.”

“The Assistant Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life agreed that this was acceptable. Unfortunately, the first night of the recruitment the chairs were moved into the hallway by the groups utilizing the spaces causing a safety concern and preventing egress for other organizations using meeting rooms. The Student Center staff contacted the Assistant Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life to discuss the issues that occurred,” Schell said via email.

Funk asked for all Greek students to be exempt from the student center fee or be allowed to continue usage for formal recruitment events, citing the possible rise in student fees pending the Council of Trustees approval.

Motions and other happenings

Executive Director of Planning and Environmental Health and Safety and Emergency Management Administrator Paul Novak prefaced the meeting with a proposal for a preparedness and safety committee, offering to involve SGA members in the process.

New organizations approved include the Early Childhood and Elementary Community Engagement Initiative at SRU and BIPOC Performing and Visual Arts Club.

SGA also approved Norah Spradling as a college of liberal arts senator and approved meeting minutes for the Feb. 19th formal meeting.

Finances were directed to the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee’s new initiative request of $240.00, American Marketing Association’s conference grant request of $500.00 and Rock PRSSA’s conference grant of $500.00.

The next SGA meeting takes place on Mar. 25 at 5:00 p.m. in the SSC Theatre.

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Hayden Schultz is a junior Strategic Communication and Media Major with a concentration in multimedia journalism and minor in political science. He serves as the assistant news editor and this is his first semester on The Rocket staff. When he is not writing or investigating, Hayden enjoys athletics and MMA in his free time, along with spending time with family and friends.

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