A Tragedy in Three Acts
Clark is, by many standards, a small school. "How small is it?" Well, just how small it is depends on who you ask. For instance, ask many of the warring factions who had to fight, bite, and squabble for space this summer, and Clark appears to be tight as a tempest-heavy teapot.
The problems surrounding space, especially this summer and certainly in the past, are almost too numerous to mention. Clark University is a very compact campus, and it isn't surprising that space is a problem. What is surprising is the ad-hoc manner which the Administration handles these problems, and the decisions that Clark made this summer to address them.
So what are the problems, exactly? First, at least a half dozen new space-related projects came to a head this summer. This created a domino-effect which jeopardized-- and, as we go to press, continues to jeopardize-- some very exciting projects on this campus. What kind of projects? As usual, student projects.
Setting the Stage:
-- The card-entry system was given a major overhaul. Card-entries are run off a mainframe computer, and now can be programmed in very sophisticated ways. And there are plans to equip many more buildings on campus with card-entry machines. Previously, the card-entry computer was in a small room in Campus Police, a room that the Emergency Medical Technicians used as a headquarters; with the expansion of the card-entry system, the EMTs were summarily left homeless (their second space was also taken away, because David Milstone, Director of Residential Life and Housing, made (in his words) "a deal with the Bullock RD" to give her an extra room). Thus commenced a search for a new space appropriate to the highly-specific needs of the all-volunteer emergency medical squad. With EMS president Mike Cross, EMT Bill Evans began the search for a space, with Chief of Police Stephen Goulet assisting them when possible (EMS is part of Campus Police, but not, as one might think, part of Health Services).
-- As we all know from the Scarlet last semester, three RDs in the Fuller quad were fired and replaced with an "Area Coordinator" to oversee the dorms (Dodd is not part of the plan). This left, in theory, three large RD apartments vacant.
-- Evans was also working on another project: the Multimedia Center of Clark (MC2) initiative. This project involved taking most of the space on the 1st floor of Dana Commons, moving all the campus media groups in, and forming a sort of media collective. Media groups could share ideas, expertise, and money, and collaborate on media projects for the campus at large. A space called "the Commuter Lounge," a mildly run-down office used primarily by the Spree Day committee last year, but which is officially vacant, was central to the idea.
-- The second floor of Dana Commons was granted to an Education Department project-to-be- named-later. This is the space, mind you, that used to be a fully-functional dining hall, and was the home of Black Tie Pizza (now Bon Appetit's "Pizzaiolo," if one can trust the Clark phone directory). Bon Appetit, meanwhile had been sending Collins memos suggesting that they are going to need the second dining space "sooner, not later."
-- Linda Connors had been helping Evans with the MC2. Connors has three positions, each of which conflicts with the others in subtle ways: Associate Dean of Students, Director of the University Center, and Facilitator of Campus Activities. As she and Evans were trying to sort out whose jurisdiction Dana Commons fell under (Housing? Connors? Collins?), a memo came down from Executive Assistant to the President Jack Foley's office: Find Hope Lonstein a new office.
Why did Lonstein need a new office? It turns out that Education's Project was given Lonstein's office, even though hundreds of feet of empty space surround it. Lonstein is the Coordinator of Evening Safety and Services (namely, Escort), and was also now homeless.
-- In the middle of this, Clark's Barnes&Noble Bookstore pulled the Specialty Shop out of the UC, creating a very public void in a very public space.
-- Let's not forget that Jonas Clark is being renovated and academic departments have been stuck in unusual places like the basement of freshmen dorms (eg. Econ).
-- Finally, Clark University has added four academic departments since the turn of the decade, while the normal departments continue to grow and expand at a healthy-but-alarming rate. This is in addition to the external projects that Clark is taking on, such as the Main South Community Development Corporation (MSCDC), IDRISI, COPACE (and its sub-programs), and the UPNRP plan (which should be adding spaces for the campus, but doesn't seem to be).
Click for Act Two
Evans' search for an EMS space started with an idea: why not one of the empty RD apartments? These spaces are perfect in size, construction, and equipment, and should be empty. Unfortunately, as Housing dean David Milstone informed him, the apartments are taken: one is needed as living space for the Area Coordinator, one is offices for the AC and the 13 RAs (why the RAs need an office is a mystery), and the remaining one is rented as a pair of double-singles to help pay for the AC. It is a full-time job, and, strictly mathematically, seems to pay three times what an RD did; in truth, the University's overhead charge on full-time employees is a whopping 30%-- meaning that RLH must pay the Administration an extra fee equalling 30% of the A.C.'s salary-- which makes it more difficult for Milstone to recoup his costs.
While Evans looked around for yet another space that met their needs, Linda Connors and Milstone conferred over the problem, and arrived at two offers: Milstone offered the room of E&R Cleaners in the basement of Maywood Hall, while Connors offered the Commuter Lounge in the first floor of Dana Commons. Since that room was targeted by the MC2 project, the offer put EMS and the Multimedia Center in an uncomfortable competition.
The E&R room, meanwhile, was subject to three conditions: 1) that EMS moved whenever temporary housing was needed, 2) that EMS move out whenever the space was needed for quarantine, and 3) that they share with the cleaning service. The idea of the EMS sharing space with 50 bags of undergraduate laundry was not entertained for very long. If the laundry service could be moved out, however, the space would be quite acceptable. Milstone's solution was to tell Evans that all he had to do was find a new space for E&R Cleaners.
Cross spoke with Goulet, and they agreed that the Commuter Lounge would be a good space, even though it wasn't ventilated and didn't contain showering facilities. If the EMTs took the space, the MC2 was screwed. So thus Evans convinced Cross not to commit to the space, and went off in search of alternatives.
Connors, in the meanwhile, had been contacted by Jack Foley's office in order to relocate Hope Lonstein. Foley was looking for a room in the UC, but Connors was unable to come up with one. A serendipitous meeting with Milstone, Business Manager Mike Dennis, and Chief Goulet was held, and Connors, forgetting about the MC2, let Lonstein move into the Commuter Lounge. Meanwhile, Chief Goulet offered the EMS a chance to share the space with Lonstein.
Unfortunately for EMS, but fortunately for the MC2, the Commuter Lounge wasn't ventilated and didn't contain the showering facilities EMS needed. The laundry room, on the other hand, was a very nice space, but EMS can't function surrounded by piles of laundry, and furthermore, being asked to share with an external, for-profit business was adding insult to injury. After the extravagant praise during EMS Week last semester, the Administration's weak attempt to help looked a little hypocritical.
Meanwhile, Hope Lonstein cleaned and painted the unventilated Commuter Lounge by hand, as Physical Plant was too busy to do anything but throw out all the couches, chairs, tables, and desks that students could have used...