Grad Students Lobby for Student Space
The New School For Social Research's Graduate Faculty Student Senate voiced their irritation to President David Van Zandt over the continued lack of study space for graduate students at the university.
Van Zandt spoke to the student government shortly after they discussed the study center's shortcomings.
At a February 23 meeting, GFSS members said it was difficult to study given the unkempt conditions at The New School. They were also dissatisfied with the university's efforts to provide suitable study space for students. Members also felt that the office of design, construction and facilities management ignored the student senate's input in the design process of the new study center at 90 Fifth Ave., and reiterated a desire for a designated "quiet" study space on university grounds.
Since taking office on January 1, Van Zandt has met with a number of student organizations in an effort to better understand student needs within the university. "When it comes to student government representatives, I want direct contact.," Van Zandt said at the meeting. "To me that's important."
During the summer of 2010, the GFSS worked with the office of design, construction and facilities management on the blueprint of 90 Fifth Ave., suggesting amenities to properly suit student needs. Following the centers' opening on January 24, features that the senate encouraged were not present, and central aspects of the study center remained unfinished.
"We sort of approved a tentative blueprint," said Chris Crews, University Student Senate and GFSS member. Crews said the student governments asked administrators to consult with students about furnishings and aesthetics for the space, and he added that such considerations never materialized.
On January 24, the university opened the 9,000 square foot study center to compensate for space lost in the demolition of 65 Fifth Ave. - the building that once housed the majority of The New School for Social Research's classrooms and faculty offices. The study center was to contain computer terminals and printers, but after a month since its opening, portions of the space remain sectioned off by plastic sheeting.
Lia Gartner, vice president for design, construction and facilities management, said red tape and permit issues caused the delays. "It takes a very long time for the approval of the permits," she said. "It's a very complicated issue that has to do with the fire rating of the glass used [in the student study center]."
In a February 3 interview, Gartner anticipated that the laptop bar would be complete in two to three weeks after consulting with colleagues in the office of design and construction. "I'm not satisfied with that answer," she said. Gartner plans to work with students on improving the study center over time. "We are extremely open to feedback. If students have comments, we can adjust."
The GFSS intends to give the office of design, construction and facilities management a list of changes they would like to see inside the study center.
Senate members said that while the study center remains incomplete, the conditions within NSSR's 6 E. 16 St. location are cramped and students often sit in the halls to study between classes.