After reading Elaine Chen’s recent article (“Students Apply for Hilles Space,” news, Feb. 6) regarding the activity level at the Student Organization Center at Hilles (SOCH) I felt compelled to respond to the assertions in the story (which were supported by email quotes from two individuals) with a letter explaining the reality of the student group presence at the SOCH.
I am making no judgments about the student groups who claim that their members would riot if expected to endure a five minute shuttle ride; I only want to make it clear that the organizations whose members were quoted in Tuesday’s article are members of a shrinking coalition of student organizations who have yet to take advantage of the resources that the SOCH offers.
The assertion that the SOCH is barren or underutilized is empirically false: the space is used constantly by dozens of student groups. For any given week, the SOCH has at least as many student group reservations as most Yard buildings. Furthermore, bookings for student groups at the SOCH have more than doubled in the past few months and continue to multiply. It would be difficult to argue that the student organizations vying for reservations in the penthouse of the SOCH have not come to the conclusion that the building’s location is a minute concern when compared with the free media rental and extensive conference space to be found at Hilles.
I spend hours every week working to fit as many student group events into the rooms in SOCH as possible: Kuumba rehearsals, HCAP conferences, CityStep events, EMT courses, HIDO movie screenings. I find it absurd and frustrating to read in The Crimson that student groups are not interested in using the space when my records of room reservations prove that student organizations are requesting rooms at the SOCH just as frequently as they are asking for bookings in Emerson or Harvard Hall.
No one ever boasted that the SOCH would become a thriving student center overnight. But the space gets busier every day, and the Student Organization Center at Hilles is already an often and highly requested venue. If room requests for SOCH space continue at anything like their current rate, I predict that Dean McLoughlin may find his allotted three to four year growth period for SOCH to be a healthy overestimate.