There’s No Space Like A Club Space (And No Space In It, Either!)
By Julia Bifulco
A student’s club is like their in-school family; a family that shares a warm and loving home, which can easily be considered their club space. Dawson’s own club spaces can be found on the second floor C-wing, a short hallway that hundreds of students can find a sanctuary within.
Dawson is home to many clubs and, semester after semester, new ones pop up and need to be granted a space to operate in. The birth of new clubs is always a positive change since they enrich the college’s culture and opens doors for many students to gain new skills and friendships, as well as feel more comfortable and safe during their time at school. The issue with new clubs is that, in order to run efficiently, they need sufficient resources, funding, and spacing. This can be incredibly difficult when the college seems keen on restricting the club spaces to the small hallway in 2.C.
A typical club space consists of a couch and a desk, provided by the Dawson Student Union, whose Director of Clubs and Services runs the clubs. Depending on the size of the space and of the club itself, some may have a second couch or other seating arrangements, as well as a small table and appliances, such as a coffee maker or microwave. Many of these ‘extra’ items, per se, are bought by club executives out of pocket, and are later refunded by the DSU.
A petition circulated throughout the clubs this semester — allegedly started by the DSU. No DSU members are willing to be interviewed or quoted on this matter but the situation appears to be as follows: the school administration has put in a request for the DSU to “open their books,” so to speak, and give the college access to their financial records. Nowhere in the Union agreement made between the DSU and Dawson College does it say that the school has the right to make such a request. However, when this was brought to their attention, the college has allegedly threatened to shut down club space activities if the DSU did not cooperate. As the DSU is a union with the goal to protect the interests of students, granting full access to their financial records could compromise their ability to operate independently. For example: if the DSU were to hire an expert to aid a student in a legal battle against the administration, and the administration had access to the DSU’s financial records, this confidential information could be exposed. From a union’s perspective, this kind of agreement is not feasible.
When a system as fragile as that of the club spaces is the first threat to be made from all angles at the college, it is sure to collapse sooner rather than later. This would leave hundreds of students without their community hubs during school hours. It appears that the power rests in the Dawson Student Union’s hands in terms of the allocation of spaces. Due to their agreement with the school, contacting the DSU is club members’ best bet to help gain more space, as well as more efficient usage out of their spaces.
This is an ongoing battle that the newest DSU members are desperately trying to fight, but after having only been in office for a few weeks, this not-so-secret “secret” petition is the most they can offer. An interview or even a few small quotes were refused, presumably to avoid exposure. The Union appears to be doing their best to hold down the fort, but next semester’s DSU will be forced to pick up where they left off. Hopefully the future will hold a strong Student Union and an even stronger club space system.