Limited room availability in Marshall Student Center
Published: Monday, October 1, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 1, 2012 00:10
Amid a busy student body, meeting space for student organizations is at a premium, at the Marshall Student Center (MSC).
“We’ve already outgrown the building,” Sujit Chemburkar, director of the Marshall Student Center, said.
With more than 15,000 events held there during the last fiscal year, the MSC built in 2008 is the hub of student activity, and space is booked weeks in advance.
Some leaders of student organizations said they find this a hindrance to their organizations.
“There are so many organizations, and the MSC is such a popular space that there is competition to have meetings there,” Porsha Lark, a senior majoring in public health and health science, said.
Lark, an officer for both the Phi Sigma Pi fraternity and the Mexican American Student Association, is responsible for booking weekly chapter meetings and general body meetings for those organizations.
Joseph Michalsky, a senior majoring in civil and environmental engineering and president of the Student Environmental Association (SEA), said space at the MSC is usually booked for the fall semester by the first week of June, and for the spring semester by the first week of November.
“If you wait to book your meetings a few weeks prior, you probably still won’t find space,”he said.
Chemburkar said there is never a dull moment in the MSC.
“People’s perceptions are that there are only one or two events a day,” Chemburkar said. “But there’s always something happening. Something is constantly going on.”
He said that of the 15,000 events last year, 63 percent came from the more than 600 student organizations on campus that are funded through Activity and Service fees. Other university departments hosted 25 percent of those events, departments within the MSC hosted 8 percent and 2.8 percent of events were public events not associated with the university.
“We are constantly reevaluating,” Greg Jackson, associate director of the MSC, said. “There are over 600 organizations, and in order to maximize accommodations and get more organizations in, we are constantly setting up and changing rooms.”
Michalsky said the irregularity of booking options can cause problems, and has resulted in some decreased attendance for SEA last spring.
“It makes it difficult for members, and they may stop showing up,” he said. “The problem is, like television shows, when they change times, ratings go down and people stop paying attention.”
In order to reserve space at the MSC, students must fill out the appropriate forms online through the MSC’s Events and Meetings software.
“The forms are fairly complicated, and it wasn’t an easy process,” Lark said.
Due to the high demand for space, Jackson said between approximately 20 to 30 percent of meeting requests are turned away and have to find alternate solutions for meetings.
Many academic organizations decide to meet in classrooms around campus, such as business organizations that meet in the Business Administration building. Others meet in common areas such as outside in the amphitheater or near Einstein Bros. Bagels in the MSC.
“There’s been some discussion about doing expansion to the MSC,” Chemburkar said.
Over the summer, the Board of Governors approved USF’s request for a $2 per credit hour Capital Improvement Trust Fund (CITF) fee increase, of which $9.5 million would be devoted to a three-floor expansion of the MSC above the loading dock.
Chemburkar said there have been previous feasibility studies, and if “everything gets approved,” further student surveys will take place along with discussions from a student advisory board and Student Government.