The Collegian
Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Committee still plans for using lodge as student org space

<p>Two fraternity lodges on Old Fraternity Row.&nbsp;</p>

Two fraternity lodges on Old Fraternity Row. 

In fall 2020, a vacant lodge on either Old Fraternity Row or New Fraternity Row may be open for use by any non-Greek student organizations. 

The Student Organization Social Space Committee was formed last November by Mike Laposata, Richmond College Student Government Association's outgoing president, and Lindsey Paul, Westhampton College Government Association's outgoing president. The committee was formed in an effort to find the best function for at least one of two lodges that are currently unoccupied — one on Old Fraternity Row and one on New Fraternity Row. 

The committee has held weekly meetings since the start of the spring semester and planned for a pilot event to take place in April at the Old Fraternity Road lodge, while the New Fraternity Road lodge is being used for storage, Laposata said. The committee sent out an application to student organizations before spring break allowing clubs to propose an event at one of the lodges. 

The application required student organizations to collaborate with at least one other club for this pilot event, Paul said.  

“One of the things we’ve really been looking to tackle this year on the student government is just social life, and social space is a big part of that,” Paul said. “We were looking at a space that isn’t a multi-purpose space that is not for academic events but is solely a social space that clubs can feel ownership over and do events that they might not be able to do in other spaces.”

Laposata and Paul also said the initiative was broadly supported by student organizations. Interest came from Greek organizations that didn’t have their own lodges, such as the National Pan-Hellenic Council sororities and the business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi, Laposata said, but non-Greek social clubs like the Classics Club and the African Students Alliance had also expressed excitement for the space. 

The Sankofa African Students Alliance provides support to African students. The group hosts events throughout the year, including a spring fashion show, which it planned on having this spring semester with West Indian Lynk and the Bollywood Jhatkas. The group often met in the Multi-faith Room in the Wilton Center, but the lodge provides an opportunity to hold their movie nights or game nights in a more social space, said Eleazer Afotey, a sophomore who will be the group’s president starting in the 2020-2021 academic year. 

“Sometimes I feel like a lot of people in these different organizations — they just want to find groups where they’re comfortable to actually have fun, so I think that’s a great idea,” Afotey said. 

There will not be an opportunity to pilot the space until the fall, with the UR student population now being almost entirely off campus and all UR campus events being on hold for the next couple months because of the COVID-19 outbreak. The committee initially planned to use the pilot to gather data and decide the space’s function, Paul said. 

After that review process, the lodge could have seen renovations this summer, but those plans are on hold for now, Laposata said. 

The committee’s leaders have intentionally allowed student groups to interpret broadly what the space's function should be, so student groups can decide for themselves how to use the space, Paul said. 

The lodge could be “everything from a kick-back space with a television and watching football … all the way to a social space, a party space," said Alison Bartel Keller, director of the Center for Student Involvement and advisor to the committee.

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“I have forced the question of, ‘how does the lodge want to be used?’" Keller said. "Because until you answer the function question you can’t really then decide ‘what does the facility need to look like? What does it need to be equipped with? How does it operate?’”

There may also eventually be a process to allow alcohol at events held at the lodge through a one-time event insurance policy, Keller said. 

“We’ve looked into the insurance policy of [UR], and there is space for coverage of individual events,” Paul said. “So there’s room within our policy to potentially have alcohol at the lodge. It would just take some extra logistics.”

Alcohol will not be a consideration for the pilot event, Paul said, but eventually, alcohol could be allowed for those groups who would like to have it, although it would increase the cost for those groups.

Once the next student government presidents are elected and transitioned, Laposata, Paul and Keller will meet with them to plan a similar pilot program process for the fall, Laposata said. 

Student government elections were held on April 6. Juniors AJ Polcari and Noella Park won the RCSGA and the WCGA presidential elections, respectively.

Contact opinions and columns editor Conner Evans at conner.evans@richmond.edu.

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