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Union room booking opens, controversy ends

After months of delay, student organizations will finally be able to begin scheduling Union room reservations for next fall starting today.

While organizations would usually have begun reserving meeting rooms in the Union for fall 2013 this past November, that was delayed in order to form a new room reservation policy. But after student opposition, that policy has been scrapped.

Students can reserve rooms with this year’s policies still in effect.

“Nothing’s changed … we’re at where we should be,” said USG President Alex Solis. “We can’t delay [room reservation] a minute longer.”

Contrary to proposed changes to the room reservation policy from Union Director Patrick Nelson, there will be no limit to the amount of times and number of hours organizations can use rooms and no room-usage fees.

Nelson first presented his proposal at an ex-officio meeting Feb. 1 and then again at a USG meeting Feb. 4, which prompted a resolution from USG against the changes at an emergency meeting Monday.

USG President Alex Solis and Vice President David Neely, along with Graduate Student Senate President David Sleasman, presented the resolution to Brad Leigh, executive director of business operations, Tuesday.

One of USG’s and GSS’s biggest concerns was the absence of student voice in forming the new policy. Solis, Neely and Sleasman recommended to open the books for reservation on the 15th, return to this year’s policies and include student opinion in future changes. The three were also against the proposed two-hour cap on any meeting in the Union.

This influenced Leigh to stick with the current reservation policy for next year until students can give their input.

“The decision to delay the changes was made to allow sufficient time to solicit student input,” Leigh said in an email. “While I believe the students would agree the intent of the change is very good, having them involved in development and communication of the changes will prove beneficial.”

The proposed policy’s purpose, Nelson said at the Feb. 1 USG meeting, was to limit “no-shows,” allow more groups to have meetings in the Union and increase efficiency by not having rooms open but not in use.

Solis said Leigh was willing to work with students to find a solution that satisfies both sides.

“We agree with the overarching ideas of why to do this,” Solis said. “It’s how to get there we disagree with.”

USG’s resolution outlined a possible alternative.

“[USG] would be open to discussion on alternatives to better accommodate the needs of students and to better address the misuse by student organizations of scheduled space through a probationary system,” according to the resolution.

The plan is to now form a group of student leaders of various organizations to evaluate the policy for fall 2014, Solis said.

“It might not be changed. They might just tweak some things.” Solis said. “What I don’t want is that a year from now we’re making the same changes.”

Maureen Carr, the president of the University Activities Organization, agreed that since students are the ones affected, all changes should come with their input.

“I’m really happy they decided to stay with the current policy,” she said. “It was really quick and unexpected for the student leaders.”

Sleasman met with President Mary Ellen Mazey this past week and Solis and Neely met with her Wednesday to update her on the issue.

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