P.R.I.D.E Alliance grows concerned over a right to privacy in CLCE workspace

The P.R.I.D.E Alliance, a student organization that utilizes the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement’s (CLCE) shared workspace, has expressed concerns about the decision to move forward in redesigning club workspaces.

Last May, the CLCE conducted a student survey to better take into account the needs of organization members moving forward. Mike Severy, the director of the CLCE, was the head of this operation.

“I was charged with conducting a survey to get feedback from students and student organizations and advisors about how we could best maximize that space for as many students and student organizations as possible,” Severy said. “We went through that process in the fall, got good feedback across the board in surveys and focus groups, wrote up a report and right now we’ve been waiting on direction on how and if to move forward.”

A member of the community who utilizes the organization space is worried over the changes to come. Julia McClure, vice president of the P.R.I.D.E. Alliance, voiced concern over the new format differences to the area.

“As a safe space, we have a corner cubicle in the CLCE office that provides a private place for students to approach us if they need resources or simply someone to talk to,” McClure said. “If that space is taken away, we have no space for our members to approach us at their convenience. The CLCE office space becoming an open space takes that away.”

New renovations to the area would cause a push for student organizations to be placed closer together. 

“The way the space is designed is so student organizations have to collaborate with one another,” Severy said. “That space is designed for student organizations, not study spaces. It’s being used alternatively.”

McClure said she expressed concern over the validity of the survey given out to student organizations. She said it was inaccurate regarding the community as a whole and concerns arose among herself and others.

“As a longstanding org that was founded in 1974 and has used the office space for many years, we were not informed of this survey and were not asked to participate,” McClure said. “Furthermore, the sample size of students who took this survey was very few and could not possibly represent the majority of all of the organizations’ and students’ views.”

After being denied initial funding for the remodel, the issue had been delayed until this year. The remodeling that’s being proposed again would make an effort to reduce privacy between student spaces and create a more open area.

Severy said he worries that student organizations may be misusing the space, which has been a deciding factor in the decision to push the remodel forward. 

“My personal opinion is there are too many student organizations on the third floor who are using it primarily for storage,” Severy said. “That was the feedback we got across the board.”

In May when the issue was first introduced, online polls were conducted to gauge student opinions. However, the results did not sway in favor of the renovation.

“A staggering majority of these students did not want or approve of this change,” McClure said. “Student Government did not view these polls as valid evidence of the students’ views due to the fact that these polls were posted on social media.”

In an attempt to help regain more credibility, a physical survey was created. Nevertheless, this seemed disingenuous to organization leaders as well.

“This survey was shown to the Student Government as a simple word document rather than an officially printed and approved survey,” McClure said. “Myself and other people suggested that Student Government send out an official survey to all student orgs, but this was not approved.”

McClure said she feels as though little to no progress has been made since the initial proposal close to a year ago.

“All of this being said, there has not been actual progress on the matter,” McClure said. “Instead, it has simply been postponed due to its controversies but the fact that there is controversy at all shows evidence that it is not a necessary or wanted change.”

The last decision regarding the renovations will be made within the next few weeks as the fiscal year comes to a close.

As the final funding decision becomes closer and closer, McClure hopes the disconnect between students and faculty can be rectified.

“What I would like the CLCE to understand about the situation is that they believe they are helping students,” McClure said. “But, in actuality, they are taking away a space in which we do our work as orgs and also use as a private space for our club members. This renovation is unwanted by students/orgs, is expensive and completely unnecessary. I speak for many USF students and orgs in that such funds could be utilized for things we actually want and need.”