Student organizations navigate limited space on sixth floor of WPU

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While Office of Intercultural Leadership and Development organizations strive to achieve similar goals, the current setup has them working “on top of each other” and fighting for their own space on campus, according to Laura Stravach, vice president of Rainbow Wedding Ring.

“So you’re like, ‘Who’s going to end up winning?’ because we all deserve our own spaces,” said Stravach, a young film student. “But is Pitt really going to end up giving us all of our own spaces? I don’t know.”

Rainbow Alliance is one of dozens of CCLC-affiliated organizations that have dedicated space on the sixth floor of the Union William Pitt. Other groups include Black Action Society, Asian Student Alliance, Hillel and feminist empowerment movementamong others.

According to student affairs spokeswoman Janine Fisher, while permanent office space is limited to CCLD organizations, outside groups can book upstairs common areas, including conference rooms, a kitchen, and a living room.

Fisher said initiatives to upgrade the sixth floor were underway, but did not provide specific details regarding those initiatives.

“Lack of space is an ongoing concern on campus,” Fisher said. “CCLD is working with student leaders to identify updates to the current space to maximize use for students.”

Stravach said Rainbow Alliance wants to provide a safe space for LGBTQ+ students, but limited space sometimes makes that difficult.

“If you have a lot of people coming in to hang out, because we have a lot of people following our social media, who are in our Discord, sometimes it gets crowded here,” Stravach said. “So it’s not the most ideal space.”

Destiny Mann, president of the Black Action Society and a political science major, said while she can’t identify any specific difficulties created by sharing the sixth floor with so many others, more space would allow CCLD organizations to feel “more appreciated”.

According to Mann, BAS “makes do” with the space it has, but would be able to better promote and structure an expanded space, with separate study and meeting areas.

Mann said BAS’s current office isn’t enough for Pitt’s black students, but given the general scarcity of space on campus, the organization needs to focus on making the most of the existing office.

The elevator to the sixth floor of the William Pitt Union. (John Blair | Senior Photographer)

Jessica Ravenscroft, president of Rainbow Alliance and a biology major, said the organization is often forced to book rooms in the Cathedral of Learning to host meetings, an arrangement that only works for “recurring overflows.”

“I don’t think you can book rooms and use them the same day there, so we would probably use the CCLD lounge and if that’s closed, we’re kind of SOL,” Ravenscroft said.

According to Ravenscroft, the University likes to highlight the work of CCLD organizations, such as Rainbow’s advocacy for gender-neutral bathrooms on campus, without providing them with adequate resources.

“There are a lot of things Rainbow is doing to make the University more inclusive…and the University is piggybacking on that,” Ravenscroft said. “They don’t give us the most support, but they want us to do the heavy lifting for this kind of event.”

BAS has “been in talks” with CCLD about updating the desktop, Mann said.

Mann said renovating BAS’s “colorless” office, which has the same faded furniture and beige walls as when he arrived in 2018, would make it a more functional and inviting social space that reflects the identity of the office. organization.

“Blackness is so creative and dynamic, and right now our office doesn’t necessarily give off the same…energy that we would like to show black students,” Mann said.

Ravenscroft said there were certain advantages to working together in such close quarters, allowing for face-to-face communication between organizations, which she described as “much faster” and “more personal” than face-to-face interaction. E-mail.

Looking ahead, Ravenscroft said that while Rainbow Alliance has not been in communication with the University about better accommodations, the Student Government Council seeks to establish a LGBTQIA+ Center into which the organization would likely be absorbed.

“Right now there’s a task force with SGB working on getting that space, but it’s a little difficult because, like Laura was saying, everyone wants their own space,” Ravenscroft said.

According to Mann, the sixth floor has a lot of untapped collaborative potential, but students tend to focus on their own organizations.

“CCLD could be so amazing just to see all the diversity on the floor, but instead I feel like we’re all kind of staying in our own little bubbles, we’re staying in our offices, so it’s not there’s not as much collaboration as I feel like a lot of people want it to be,” Mann said.

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