MIXED FEELINGS ON SPLIT OFFICE

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By Liz Haggarty and Matt Kwong

After years of rallying, two campus service groups that were originally shut out of the Student Campus Centre now have a home in the new building.

On Feb. 16, RyeACCESS and the Working Students’ Centre were finally granted one shared office space in the student centre. “This is something RyeACCESS has been fighting for since our existence three or four years ago,” said Saburah Murdoch, the group’s events co ordinator.

“It’s definitely a huge step in the right direction.” But even still, Murdoch and RyeACCESS student advocacy co-ordinator Tessa Feudale said the solution to split an office with the Working Students’ Centre won’t work as a permanent plan, since both groups require student confidentiality.

“We get students who come in and disclose that they have an invisible disability…That’s something they’re confiding in us because they obviously don’t want everyone to know about it,” said Feudale, adding that she’d be concerned if they share an office long-term.

Ram Sivapalan, RyeSAC’s vice-president finance and services-elect, worked at the Working Students’ Centre in August, and agreed that maintaining confidentiality might be a problem.

“There were students describing conditions at their work, saying, ‘At this job, my boss isn’t letting me have days off.’ They may not feel comfortable if another service group is there,” he said.

Students took their concerns to a meeting with the community service groups in mid-February, at which time they were told the split office would only be temporary until the Working Students’ Centre gets a private space. For now, though, both groups are just happy they have an office in the new building.

Early blueprints excluded RyeACCESS and the Working Students’ Centre because neither group existed at the time, but they’ll now be taking over a spot originally designated as a meeting room.

“It’s about the same size as the Community Food Room, so it’s maybe three times the size of our office now,” said Feudale. RyeACCESS and the Working Students’ Centre previously operated in cramped spaces in the basement of the business building.

Students with disabilities often took an elevator to the lower floor, but the lift routinely broke down.

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