SG aims to help students ‘Find a Space’

Jody Serrano

Instead of hunting across the many entities on campus in search of meeting space, students will now be able to find reservation information for more than 550 indoor and outdoor spaces using online database “Find A Space.”

Student Government launched the comprehensive database March 5 in an attempt to simplify the process students go through when they reserve a space on campus. SG vice president Ashley Baker said SG received feedback from many students on difficulties finding and reserving a space last year and began working with the Office of the Dean of Students on the database last summer.

The database allows students to search for a room for their needs by specifying capacity and location preferences and informs students if a room has commonly requested items like movable chairs, a stage and a projector. It also gives students contact information for the entity in charge of the space and any amenities included.

“In my sorority when we have an event we go back and forth on what room to use,” Baker said. “We don’t want to have too big of a room where it seems we don’t have enough people, but we don’t have to have a small room and have people be cramped.”

Baker said the database did not cost any money to build, only labor to obtain information and take pictures. She said four volunteers from SG and two employees from the Office of the Dean of Students worked on the project.

Currently, there are several different entities on campus for students to reserve a space from, including Student Activities, University Unions, Recreational Sports, Texas Performing Arts and other departments within the various colleges on campus.

Mary Beth Mercatoris, assistant Dean of Students, said Student Activities has received feedback from students articulating their difficulty knowing which rooms will accommodate their needs based on the resources in each room.

Mercatoris said “Find A Space” is a good example of how students and the UT administration can work together to improve the lives of students.

“I believe students will request the right type of room for the needs the first time they are making the request rather than finding out later that the room they reserved does not meet their needs,” Mercatoris said.

Educational administration graduate student Cecilia Lopez said she was involved in the Student Volunteer Board and the Leadership and Ethics Institute as an undergraduate and at first had difficulty finding an ideal space. She said she needed to research to find out what entity is in control of the space she wanted to reserve.

“Finding a space on campus is huge,” Lopez said. “That is where the big events happen and a lot of the learning takes place. Space is key, whether indoor or outdoor, because that’s where campus life happens.”

Baker said “Find A Space” allows students to see what SG does for them in a tangible way.

While the database does not allow students to reserve most rooms online, Baker said she hopes the “Find A Space” project will live on after her term to eventually have all room reservations made online. SG passed a resolution in support of a centralized online room reservation system Feb. 14.

Jeremy Gatson, Liberal Arts Council program coordinator, said although he has not explored “Find A Space,” he believes there needs to be an online room reservation system like the one in place at the University Unions. He said he liked the idea of “Find A Space,” but believes having contact information on the database will add stress on the staff that works to manage room reservations.

“If you send them an email on top of them having their own way of reserving rooms, it’s more work for them,” Gatson said. “It’s a good thing for people to utilize that, but it’s more stress on the staff side.”

Printed on Tuesday, March 20, 2012 as: SG aims to help students 'Find a Space' with launch