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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, December 9, 2023

Nine new spaces to be available for student events

Depiction of some of the existing social spaces available for student group booking and usage and spaces that will become available throughout the school year.

The Office of Campus Planning plans to make nine more locations available for student gatherings, meetings, events and other social occasions throughout the 2017–2018 academic year.

Students will now be able to book Harleston Hall 051, the Hodgdon Hall first floor lounge, the Hill Hall second floor lounge and the Baronian Field House room 101, which will be available for students to use until 2 a.m. according to Tufts Community Union (TCU) President Benya Kraus, who played a key role in the planning through her role in Senate and as an intern for the Office of Campus Planning. The Carmichael Hall first floor lounge, the old Brown and Brew space in Curtis Hall, the Lewis Hall lounge and the meeting room and atrium in the Tufts Administration Building (TAB) near Davis Square will also now be available.

With these new spaces available, student organizations will have an additional 15,460 square feet at their disposal, according to a map provided by Kraus.

Spaces in Carmichael Hall, Hodgdon Hall, Harleston Hall and Hill Hall were added to the Tufts Space and Resource Reservation System website on Oct. 11 and are available for use starting today, according to Kraus. Curtis Hall, TAB and Baronian Field House will be listed on the school's reservation system starting Oct. 18 and available for use Oct. 30, she added. The Lewis Hall lounge will be available for booking during December and open for use starting the first day of the spring semester.

Heidi Sokol, senior campus planner for the Office of Campus Planning, said the locations were chosen based on their accessibility to students.

"We sought to identify spaces that could accommodate mid- to large-sized gatherings and activities, that were distributed geographically throughout the campus, and that wouldn't need too much intervention to make them appropriate for new [and] increased student organization use," Sokol told the Daily in an email.

However, Sokol said the office is working to modify the spaces to ensure they meet the needs of student organizations.

"We visited the spaces to ascertain any modifications that would be needed to enable the spaces to be used by student organizations, such as security - card swipes and security cameras - additional lighting controls, any new or supplemental furniture," Sokol said.

Kraus, a senior, said she is hoping for additional physical modifications to the spaces, including an audiovisual system, better furniture and other equipment. For example, she said adding mirrors to the Harleston space could make it amenable to being a dance or rehearsal space.

Kraus says she learned the importance of social spaces on campus through her role as a member of the Student Life Review Committee, a group which convened last semester to comprehensively assess student life at Tufts. Rethinking social spaces was a key part of her TCU Senate presidential platform during her campaign last spring.

"Through [the Student Life Review Committee] it became clear to me that a lot of [creating a more caring and interactive student environment] had to do with social spaces," Kraus said. "I know people have different opinions about the Student Life Review Committee report, but what I appreciate is that there is a whole section on space ... that really shows how access to space is access to social power."

The committee's report, released to the community in September 2017, discusses the importance of physical space on campus and points out the lack of social spaces on campus that are available for all students.

"Many students identified the lack of space in general as 'the big issue' on campus," the report read.

The report recommends that Tufts make more spaces available for students, especially for social purposes.

"Create more dedicated social spaces that are central to campus and can be used by different groups and organizations throughout the semester, thereby establishing inclusive social opportunities and alternatives to fraternity parties," the report said.

Kraus said that campus organizations often share with her their struggle to book spaces, due to high competition for a small number of vacancies.

Gill Eun Kang, president of the Tufts Korean Students Association (KSA), said that her organization had trouble booking spaces. Kang, a senior, also explained that campus organizations are advised to reserve at least two or three weeks in advance.

"The only space that really fits our preference [for big events] is the Sophia Gordon Multipurpose Room [SoGo]," Kang said. "The demand is too high. Because this is the best option for many events, especially since 51 Winthrop and other big spaces require a rental fee, it would be great to see other spaces similar to SoGo open up for reservation."

Kang said she was excited about more spaces now being open to student organizations.

"More options [of spaces] will most definitely help us out. And since our events tend to have varying activities and numbers of attendees, it would be to our advantage to have a greater number of options to choose from," she said. "Also, competition to reserve the best space (for example, SoGo) would probably lessen as a result of more spaces being opened up."