YU Office Relocation Stirs Controversy

UW-Superior stu­dents and Stu­dent Gov­ern­ment Asso­ci­a­tion mem­bers found them­selves fac­ing off with cam­pus admin­is­tra­tion Mon­day night over the pro­posed and imple­mented relo­ca­tion of the var­i­ous cam­pus ser­vices from Old Main to the Yel­low­Jacket Union. The con­tro­versy is stem­ming from a lack of com­mu­ni­ca­tion to stu­dent gov­ern­ment by the admin­is­tra­tion as well as the con­tention of where offices can be placed.

Start­ing Feb­ru­ary 24 the admis­sions, Career Ser­vices, First Year Expe­ri­ence, and Tech­nol­ogy Ser­vices offices will all change loca­tion, as planned as part of Strate­gic Plan­ning, but with­out the approval the Stu­dent Gov­ern­ment Association.

The plan is for the admis­sions office to move where career ser­vices and FYE cur­rently is, for career ser­vices and FYE, who cur­rently and will con­tinue to share a loca­tion, to move to where Tech Ser­vices cur­rently is, and for Tech Ser­vices to move to sec­ond floor of Swen­son hall.

The rearrange­ment came after dis­cus­sion of how the YU is being used. Career ser­vices is seen by the admin­is­tra­tion as more of an aca­d­e­mic asset and they believe it would be eas­ier for stu­dents to access if it were in Swen­son Hall. Admis­sions also feels they will bet­ter meet their goal of increas­ing enroll­ment and vis­i­bil­ity by mov­ing to the YU.

The Stu­dent Gov­ern­ment Asso­ci­a­tion, where any­thing the admin­is­tra­tion plans that will effect stu­dent life should go through, did not see or vote on this change. “They didn’t come to us,” said Sen­a­tor Chelsea Mered­ith. “We were pretty con­fused and misinformed.”

On Mon­day Feb­ru­ary 10, SGA had an open forum for stu­dents to come and speak their opin­ions. In atten­dance was Chan­cel­lor Watcher, Vicki Hajew­ski, and the assis­tant vice chan­cel­lor of enroll­ment man­age­ment John Mueller. Around 50 peo­ple attended the meeting.

I have never seen a turnout like this at an SGA meet­ing in my four years,” said pres­i­dent Gra­ham Garfield.

John Kro­nen­wet­ter is con­cerned over the admin­is­tra­tions actions over the last few weeks. “If I knew the admin­is­tra­tion walked all over stu­dent rights I would not have come here…Old Main is not dilap­i­dated, it is dis­tin­guished and his­tor­i­cal… We pay for this build­ing, we deserve to have full over­sight… We are a Uni­ver­sity, not a busi­ness and stu­dents aren’t dollar-signs.” he said.

Devin Pfaff is a cam­pus admin­is­ter who takes prospec­tive stu­dents on tours. She said bring­ing them into Old Main leaves a bad taste in their mouth. “[The YU] in a gor­geous build­ing,” she said. “The vast major­ity of other UW schools have their admis­sions in the stu­dent union, cen­ter of the uni­ver­sity, or in their newest building.”

James Mohr said that within the Strate­gic Plan, this move was “buried in polit­i­cal dou­ble speak…Changes should have some sort of stu­dent input. They had the best inten­tions but the way they went about it leads to dis­trust from the stu­dent body.”

Jor­dan Hiatis said “Are we going to move a dump­ster or three entire offices?”

Tay­lor Teng­wall said “Whether or not this is going to be good or bad its going to hap­pen; its already been decided…I wish [we could have had this dis­cus­sion] before this deci­sion was made. Whats going to stop them from putting other offices, or tak­ing things away?”

The rest of the SGA meet­ing was  spent by Sen­a­tors ask­ing the admin­is­tra­tion in atten­dance ques­tions about office rearrangement.

The sit­u­a­tion we face today is unprece­dented,” said Chan­cel­lor Watcher. “This is the fis­cal real­ity we are deal­ing with…its very dif­fi­cult. We either cut expenses or increase revenue.”

When dis­cussing why this was never brought to SGA she said some­where the com­mu­ni­ca­tion was dropped. “I want the stu­dents to feel involved and heard.” said said to the Senate.

Provost Dr. Faith Hun­srud wrote in her email to all stu­dents and fac­ulty “when prospec­tive stu­dents come to visit us in the Office of Admis­sions, their first impres­sion is crit­i­cally impor­tant. Right now, vis­i­tors expe­ri­ence less ideal con­di­tions when they gather on the first floor of Old Main; they walk past a dump­ster and into an out­dated build­ing and office space.”

Accord­ing to Wis­con­sin State Statute 36.09(5), “stu­dents shall have pri­mary respon­si­bil­ity for the for­mu­la­tion and review of poli­cies con­cern­ing stu­dent life, ser­vices and inter­ests. Stu­dents in con­sul­ta­tion with the chan­cel­lor and sub­ject to the final con­fir­ma­tion of the board shall have the respon­si­bil­ity for the dis­po­si­tion of those stu­dent fees which con­sti­tute sub­stan­tial sup­port for cam­pus stu­dent activities.”

The YU, though, it only about 80% paid for by the stu­dents. “While the YU is pri­mar­ily a stu­dent funded build­ing, about 20% of the build­ing costs ($4 mil­lion) was received through a donor gift,” said Direc­tor of Mar­ket­ing and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Lynne Williams. “In com­par­i­son, the build­ing is approx­i­mately 80,000 square feet and the space that admis­sions will be uti­liz­ing is about 4,000 square feet, or about 5% of the building.”

The offices will not all rearrange at once. “The moves will hap­pen sequen­tially,” Williams con­tin­ued.  “IT first, then CS and FYE, then Admissions.”

The SGA meet­ing was called into ses­sion by pres­i­dent Gra­ham Garfield at 8:04pm and ended at the time the YU closed at 11pm.

 

 

 

Images cour­tesy of Kara Schmidt and Josh Lee — The Stinger
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