Two years have passed since student groups attacked the University’s office space allocation to Michigamua, the secret society that was attacked for their stereotypical portrayal of Native American culture.

The controversy caused the University to revise its policies for allocating space to student organizations. The University chose to expand the reapplication process used by the Office Space Allocation Committee for spots in the Michigan Union to spaces in other buildings as well.

As a result, this year is the first in which student groups located in the Michigan League, Pierpont Commons and the William Monroe Trotter House must apply to keep their spaces under the new guidelines, which state student organizations housed in those locations must reapply for the use of their space every two years.

This may bode well for student organizations that currently do not have regular access to University-owned space but are looking forward to receiving some. It also means groups that have space now may lose it in the near future.

“I think it is the right thing to do,” said Bob Yecke, the director of the Michigan League, which has four spaces available for student organizations. “We’ve got 900 registered student organizations and less than 100 offices available (across campus). I think we should review these spaces on a regular basis.”

The OSAC guidelines stipulate student organizations wishing to keep their spaces must remain a vital part of the campus and use the office space efficiently and effectively, said Law student and Michigan Student Assembly Student General Counsel Joe Bernstein, a former OSAC committee member.

“They have to stay relevant. That would be the biggest advice – keep doing stuff so that you are an active organization. If you are not visible on campus, that’s a huge problem,” Bernstein said. “The other thing is to actually use the space. Once you have an office, go there. Put your stuff in there. Be actively visible not just on campus, but in the Union too, so that OSAC can see not that you want the space, but that you actually need it,” he said.

Bernstein added that in the past, the reapplication process has not affected the majority of student groups, so that 80 percent generally receive offices again.

Offices used by student groups that experience a decline in their membership or a drop in activities throughout the year may have to pack their bags.

“It’s a tough decision to make,” Bernstein said. “If somebody is using their space a little bit, but if somebody else might use it better, than give them a shot.”

Though most students agree that new guidelines are necessary to keep out-of-date organizations from taking up valuable office space, students are divided on whether the new policy will have the right effect on student organizations.

“I definitely think that the policy is needed to prevent another situation like Michigamua from occuring again,” MSA President Sarah Boot said. “It’s important. It gives the administration the chance to assess the evolution of an organization and ensure that it still falls in line with its initial goals.”

Michigan Review Editor in Chief James Justin Wilson – whose organization has occupied its office located in the League since 1982 – said he agrees with Yecke that office space allocation should be regularly reviewed but added he believes the University’s current policy is unfair to certain organizations.

The adopted policy provides exemptions for groups that have been given departmental status by the Regents and have received student fees or departmental funds.

The policy also exempts organizations that are an elected governing body or a campus news media outlet that provides students a forum with which to speak, as well as groups that have special responsibilities that correspond to the needs of the campus community.

Wilson said the policy lists examples of those groups – such as the University Activities Center that houses the Michigan Every Three Weekly, as well as The Michigan Daily, WCBN and WOLV-TV – but never gave a clear list. He said he believes that not including The Review in that list and putting its office space up for grabs is potentially damaging to the publication.

“There is definitely a double standard. We serve the same purpose as any other campus media organization, and at the same time we are being treated by a different standard,” Wilson said. “It seems irresponsible to put our space on the shopping block before determining which category we belong to.”

Office Space Allocation

Application Timetable

– Application deadline: Jan. 31

– Allocation decisions announced: March 10.

– Appeals deadline: March 14

– Final allocations decisions: April 2

– Move-out: Aug. 1

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