When the United Asian American Organizations held its usual weekly meeting Wednesday night, the Yuri Kochiyama Lounge in South Quad was occupied by a single piano player. A sign on the door directed students looking for the meeting downstairs to a room of the lounge, where the group has held most of its meetings for the last 10 years, in South Quad’s basement.

The group was forced to move by a new University Housing policy limiting how often some student groups can reserve residence hall spaces during a term.

Housing spokesman Peter Logan said the rule was implemented over the summer to ensure that dorm residents could take full advantage of their lounges during peak hours. The new rule does not apply to groups organized through University Housing, like hall councils or dorm-based multicultural councils.

“Our goal here is to do what we can to make spaces available to residents as much as we can while at the same time balancing that with the interests of MSA groups to use residence hall spaces for organization meetings,” he said.

Members of some student organizations, like UAAO, said they believe they’re entitled to a space where they can meet regularly. The group, which is circulating a petition against the policy, voted unanimously Wednesday to adopt a resolution expressing disagreement with it.

Logan said the multicultural lounges have seen increased demand this year because some community lounges have been converted to dorm rooms. The rise in the number of students living in the residence halls this year necessitated the change, he said.

LSA sophomore Toniesha Jones, president of A’Subuhe Multicultural Council, the South Quad organization officially linked to the Yuri Kochiyama Lounge, said her council has never had problems reserving space in the lounge. Because her group is dorm-based, it is free to reserve the space as often as it likes. But she said the space was in high demand and that the new policy was “reasonable.”

“I would not object to outside organizations scheduling it,” she said. “However, if it interferes with the scheduling of a multicultural council, I think that would be a problem.”

Jones said A’Subuhe only holds about six events a term in the lounge during the restricted time — 5 p.m. to midnight. It holds its weekly meetings on Sundays, she said.

LSA senior Ravi Bodepudi, a co-chair of UAAO, said the lounge is more than just a meeting place for the group.

The lounge’s namesake, Yuri Kochiyama, was a Japanese-American woman involved in civil rights and Black Nationalist movements. Prominent Chinese American architect Maya Lin, most famous for designing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. and Wave Field, designed the lounge, which features several portraits of Asian American women on the walls.

“It’s an integral part of our history,” Bodepudi said. “We’ve been there for the last 10 years, and a lot of student activism that we’ve been taking part of has occurred in that room.”

LSA sophomore Bianca Amato said attendance at Latino Student Organization meetings has suffered because they’ve had to move from the Yuri Kochiyama Lounge to the Ambatana Lounge on the other side of South Quad.

Amato, LSO’s public relations chair, said the group has seemed like “a scatterbrained organization” because it doesn’t consistently meet in one place. She said the new policy is especially problematic because the organization is trying to raise its profile on campus this year.

She said the group was trying to negotiate an arrangement with Mosher-Jordan Residence Hall staff to have a permanent place in the Caesar Chavez lounge there, a space dedicated to Latin American activists.

LSA senior Laura Misumi, co-chair of UAAO, said she thought the policy was taking something away from the group.

“We want to make sure that we do have a place on this campus and that our unified voice is being recognized and acknowledged, and we kind of feel that this is a slight for our community.”

Her sentiment was reflected in UAAO’s petition.

“We feel that in order for the University of Michigan to uphold its various statements on diversity, that the right of students of color to have a central space on campus must be upheld,” the statement reads. “Such spaces are essential to our development as a community and to our educational experiences as individuals.”

The petition had 327 signatures as of Thursday night.

LSA junior Cordaye Ogletree, speaker of the Black Student Union, said he was concerned about the policy even though BSU hasn’t been affected. That group meets in the Trotter Multicultural Center.

“There’s only a certain amount of time before they try and put restrictions on the Trotter House,” he said. “We’ve decided to try and get them to change the policy.”

Ogletree and Misumi said they were planning to meet with leaders of the Latino Student Organization and other groups next week before approaching University Housing.

Logan said his office would consider making some exceptions to the policy on a case-by-case basis if “there is a really compelling reason to go beyond the guidelines for these groups.”

“There is a respect for the group that has had a part in creating that multicultural space,” he said. “University Housing will meet with any group who requests to go beyond the current policy.”

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