Plans for Shapiro Campus Center renovations displace SSIS and 6TALK
Essential peer support organizations explain the inconvenience associated with relocations due to the new SCC enhancement plan.
As finals were about to begin for students of Brandeis University, the Brandeis Division of Student Affairs announced their plan to enhance the Shapiro Campus Center. One of the intended results of the project would be more available space for students and non-secured clubs who don’t currently reside in the SCC. These enhancement plans include more food options, refurbished furniture, and the opportunity to reserve rooms.
However, one of the implications of this decision is that unsecured clubs were forced to give up their space. Many of these clubs, such as Gravity Magazine, Brandeis T.V., and Laurel Moon, may have a harder time producing content without a dedicated space. Student Sexuality Information Service and confidential hotline 6TALK are also being forced to relocate, which may have a larger effect on the health and safety of the larger Brandeis population.
Although both clubs offer confidential peer support to Brandeis students, there are a few key differences between them. SSIS is a secured club, whereas 6TALK is not. SSIS offers support both in person and over the phone while 6TALK only offers services over the phone. SSIS also focuses on sexuality education and resources in addition to peer support. They have a library of books covering sexual education; hold sex-ed events; and offer subsidized contraceptives, “pleasure products,” and other products related to sexual health.
Secured or unsecured, both organizations anticipate struggles during the 2023-24 school year without adequate space.
While SSIS is guaranteed a spot in the SCC as a secured club, they are being moved from their current location on the third floor. “We received a few options from the administration for potential space options, and we do not have confirmation of a new space. However, none of these spaces meet the specifications that SSIS needs to function, mainly a private inner office and a lockable storage closet within the space. For this reason, we are continuing to fight for our current location,” several members of SSIS wrote in a May 2 email to the Justice. The members explained that they were not given a choice in the matter and are required to move.
“There are space options within the SCC that our planning committee believes will meet SSIS’s needs. We have shared these options with SSIS leadership and asked them to rank their preferences,” Director of Student Engagement Matthew Galewski said in a May 10 email to the Justice. He did not specify what those options were.
Regardless of whether or not SSIS receives a space that works for next semester, they have concerns about transporting their supplies. In an email, Galewski asked SSIS to pack any fragile, private, or easily misplaced items — which SSIS explains is almost everything they have — by May 30. “Many clubs, including us, were blindsided and told we had to vacate our spaces by the end of the school year. The timeline of this was inappropriate given that these decisions were communicated to clubs at the end of the school year when everyone is finishing up classes and preparing for finals,” the members of SSIS said. Many of those working for SSIS are leaving immediately after finals, and they will have few people who can help them pack up their belongings.
SSIS attempted to speak in front of the committee addressing the SCC enhancement project about keeping their space, but their request was denied.
Similar to SSIS, 6TALK will be losing their space in the SCC in the coming year. However, it is unclear if they will be given an alternate location. While 6TALK only works with students over the phone, the organization cannot function without a space that allows for anonymity. “[We] cannot run the hotline in a shared space because of its confidential and anonymous nature. Brandeis students can’t know who is on the hotline. Our phone cannot be in a public place where anyone could pick it up. We need to trust that no one will enter the room while a hotline member is taking a shift,” explained a group of anonymous 6TALK volunteers in a May 9 correspondence with the Justice.
“Non-secured clubs, including those which offer peer support, will have the opportunity to reserve rooms. We are working with all impacted groups to ensure continuity of services,” Galewski said. 6TALK would prefer to keep their current space but say they would settle for a private room, rather than being forced to reserve one or share with another club.
Several members of 6TALK had a meeting with Assistant Vice President of Student Engagement Shelby Harris to address their concerns. It is currently unclear where and if 6TALK will have a location in the coming school year.