Stanford University

News Service


NEWS RELEASE

3/5/03

CONTACT: Andrea M Hamilton, News Service: (650) 724-5708, andrea.hamilton@stanford.edu

COMMENT: Gene Awakuni, Vice Provost for Student Affairs: (650) 725-1808, gawakuni@stanford.edu

Student Activity Space Task Force issues interim report

The Student Activity Space Task Force, a group formed last year by Vice Provost for Student Affairs Gene Awakuni and made up of students, staff and key administrators, has released an interim report addressing the space needs of student organizations.

"The activities that comprise campus life help to create a dynamic energy that enriches students' lives and provides benefit to the entire university community," Awakuni said. "I believe this task force report represents the first step of a rededicated university commitment in this area. By making this commitment, we hope to ensure that Stanford will provide the best possible environment in which student activities can grow and prosper."

The report recommends:

A phased-in approach to renovations and improvements in buildings that house student activities. The first phase would include renovations and possible additions to the 1920s-era Old Union, Nitery and Clubhouse, and the Storke Student Publications building. A later phase would include renovations to Tresidder Memorial Union, as well as a rethinking of the mix of activities in the union.

• Looking at ways to revitalize the core area around White Plaza through landscaping, design and circulation. As campus architect David Neuman has pointed out, the area around White Plaza home to the first post office and the now-defunct Stanford Inn and trolley terminus to downtown has a long history as the campus' town square. However, its dual personality as campus crossroads and town square can pose a conflict particularly for pedestrians dodging bicycles.

• Studying policy issues related to campus space, including the use of academic buildings, subsidies for student groups, space sharing and improving the process for scheduling events and space.

Under the guiding principle of supporting the needs of the "whole student," both academic and co-curricular, the task force articulated a need for the university to build a better sense of place, or "soul," for the campus community. That includes creating a vibrant core for student activity space at the heart of campus, and linking those spaces to each other as well as to the activities in the residential "neighborhoods" of the dorms and houses.

The task force has brought together many of the key stakeholders involved with student life and student spaces. From April 2002 to January 2003, the group held monthly and sometimes bi-weekly meetings to develop priorities and articulate themes for future planning.

"It was really a very positive process," said graduate student Eric Allison, who served on the task force. "The great thing about the group was that we all tried to put aside our own agendas and work as a group take a higher-level view of how things would impact the campus at large."

Awakuni said student activity space was one of the first items he put on his agenda when he arrived last year.

"All the students I talked to when I got here had stories about lack of space for their meeting, programming and rehearsal needs," Awakuni said. "When I toured the campus, I got a firsthand, up-close look at the woeful condition of some of our student activity space."

While he was convinced of the need to renovate existing space and, where possible, provide more space to meet student demand, Awakuni said he was being asked to consider projects like the renovation of the Old Union without having a sense of the total space available across campus. The task force was charged with taking a comprehensive survey of all space and diverse student needs and coming up with a set of criteria to establish a student activity space master plan. "This would give us a roadmap that could guide student space planning for the next decade," Awakuni said.

The task force deliberated about what kinds of activities most needed to be centrally located, which should be nearby and which could be housed in the residential neighborhoods. At the same time, the group had to bear in mind the strict limitations the General Use Permit imposes on construction of any new buildings on campus as well as the university's financial constraints.

Subject to the provost's specific recommendations after reviewing the report, the next step calls for more extensive consultation with students and others. Staff from the departments of Capital Planning and Project Management and Student Affairs will continue discussions with the community centers, the Office of Religious Life, student publications and the Student Services Task Force. They also will convene focus groups and conduct more formal program analysis to help refine priorities.

Awakuni emphasized the task force is still very much a "work in progress," subject to input by students and others, as planning continues.

"This effort speaks well of the commitment of students, faculty, staff and administrators, working with the campus architect and capital planning offices, to meld the interests of so many stakeholders and come up with a master plan for student space that will serve the university and students well for years to come," Awakuni said.

The task force will continue to meet at least through this academic year as an advisory group for the next phases of planning.

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