The student-run drama group The Opposite of People (TOOP) was told in late November that there was a shortage of performing space on campus, according to junior Financial Officer and Director Evan Changar.
Wilson Commons Student Activities (WCSA) promised to look around and get back to the group before the first day of classes of the spring semester, however when TOOP had not heard anything back by Jan. 11, its members emailed staff and were informed that it was not possible for them to put on a show this semester.
The 15 year-old drama club, which according to its CCC homepage has put on at least one play every semester since 2008, was unable to put on one of their two shows for Spring 2023 due to a lack of space — and they’re not alone.
“We weren’t the only ones who did not get in this spring,” Changar said. “There was a lot of dance groups as well.”
Canceled performances are not the only issues that student groups have faced. One common issue this semester has been that of groups using the space that other groups had reserved.
Associate Director of Student Life Kenneth Beck said that this may be caused by problems with communication between student groups and WCSA. These problems lead to the impression that campus spaces are overbooked.
At the beginning of the pandemic, WCSA implemented a policy requiring student groups to list every activity on CCC. Beck said that it had put a lot of work on both students and staff, and so over winter break WCSA implemented a new policy removing that requirement.
EMS, the University’s scheduling portal, does not allow spaces to have more than one reservation at any given time, according to Beck. If an organization tries to reserve a space that is already reserved by another group, EMS lists that date for that organization as “WC – Sorting”. The label indicates that WCSA is looking for another space for the organization to use.
Beck said that groups may not realize that the space is taken, and assume that they can use the space. This leads to the impression that spaces are double-booked when they are not.
In addition, Beck pointed instead to an overall increase in student organizations requesting reservations as a cause of the problems with reservations.
“This has been one of the hardest semesters so far to fit in all of the major events and performances,” he said in an email. “There are several nights a week where every rehearsal space on campus is booked.”
The Department of Dance and Movement is one department that demonstrates this growth. Director Missy Pfol Smith said in an email that the Department, excluding student organizations, has 16 groups this semester. 15 of these groups rehearse twice a week, and the other rehearses once a week. In total this sums to more than 30 rehearsals per week with more than 30 hours of reservations.
“This is a larger than normal group […] so we are bursting at the seams for space, just like the SA student groups are,” Smith said.
One of the student groups that has run into issues with reservations is the Ballet Performance Group (BPG).
Junior Glory Linebach, Vice President of the Ballet Performance Group (BPG), said that the new policy might be part of the problem with reservations.
Linebach and Senior and President of BPG Maddie Esposito said in an interview with the Campus Times that there have been more problems this semester than in previous semesters.
BPG’s most common problem is the impression of overbooking, according to Esposito. She said that other departments often think that they have the space that BPG has reserved.
Linebach agreed. When this happens, she grabs the PDF of the reservation confirmation provided by WCSA, and contacts BPG’s advisor at WCSA. They then confirm BPG’s reservation, and the conflict is resolved.
Esposito and Linebach both expressed gratitude that BPG has not experienced issues as serious as some other groups have.
“It’s been wicked scary to, like, watch it all happen,” Esposito said. “These shows and these events that we put on are so important to us.”
Editor’s Note (2/28/23): A line about TOOP being unable to put on one of their two shows this semester was reworded for clarity.