With increasing involvement at UWA, difficulties in reserving spaces for student organizations are also increasing.
As enrollment at UWA reaches an all-time high, student leaders are clashing with administrators as they try to accommodate their groups in the most effective and efficient way possible.
“I feel that our options for holding events are limited due to the size of the university,” said Dondraius Mayhew, a senior history major and former president of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. Mayhew began a petition last year to allow students to use Bibb Graves auditorium, but it was quickly shot down.
“We really need to revisit some of our policies regarding the use of our buildings for campus events,” said Richard Hester, Director of Student Life. “Our channels of communication just need to improve.”
For student groups, these channels of communication include printing off the “UWA Event and Facility Request Form” from the myUWA portal online, completing the 17 required fields on the form, acquiring five signatures from various UWA officials and ultimately turning in the form, which still may or may not be approved.
“The biggest complaints we’ve had from organizations is the fact that the reservation forms must be turned in 10 days in advance,” said Hester, who advises numerous campus groups including greek life. “We’re working on moving to a more digital system that wouldn’t take as long, but that itself will take time.”
One of the major pitfalls of reserving a specific location is initially finding a space to use. Currently UWA has over 50 student organizations, but less than 10 usable spaces to hold events and meetings.
“With the addition of our current pledge class, we’ve outgrown our meeting space,” said Wade Medley, current president of Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity. “We’ve gotten negative responses from several UWA faculty and staff when we ask about using their respective spaces, or the spaces themselves are already in use by another organization. We can’t seem to catch a break.”
Hester said the negative responses from UWA employees stem from what he called “technophobia.”
“Some departments are a little apprehensive about students using certain facilities because they’re afraid a student will press a button and everything electronic will go haywire,” Hester said.
Hester referenced classrooms in the newly-constructed Gilbert Hall as technologically wary. The use of these rooms is strictly guarded by UWA housing staff. According to a housing staff member, organizations are only allowed to use the classrooms in Gilbert Hall if 75 percent of their members are Gilbert residents.
Pruitt Gymnasium, which falls under the authority of the UWA athletic department, has similar regulations. “With our leftover budget last year, SGA wanted to throw an end-of-the-year rave in Pruitt,” said former UWA SGA president Hannah Riley. “However, we learned quickly that the rooms are not guaranteed. It was a huge hassle to get everything finalized, but we pulled it off somehow.”
The floor of the gym was renovated over the summer and is now restricted to only athletic events at this time.
There does seem to be some hope for student organizations coming in the near future. The Office of Student Life has declined the use of the Tiger’s Den by educational departments in an effort to keep it as accessible as possible by any student group that needs it. Also, upon completion of Lyon Hall in 2014, new facilities will be available for use by students to help satisfy the high demand for them.
According to Hester, these plans are just some of many that are being implemented to make sure UWA is still seen by its student body as being student-friendly.
“I’m glad to see that the administration is finally taking a look at this problem,” said junior criminal justice major and Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority member Krista McCabe. “If the university wants support from the greek system and other student groups, it needs to support us also.”

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