It’s safe to say that UMBC, on the whole, highly values partnerships and collaboration. One of their front-pages talks about their partnerships, and this is baked into many more of their departments, procedures, and practices. Who hasn’t had a class with a semester-long group project accounting for a significant percentage of their grade? (For those that haven’t, it will happen, just wait!) On the whole, this is an admirable skill to teach its students. This practice is also encouraged outside of classes. For instance, student organizations are directed to “Look for other organizations with which to pursue common interests and achieve mutual objectives“, and if debating starting a new organization, “We encourage you to think about whether your needs and interests can be met by
an existing student organization.” (Per Student Organization Handbook)
To make a really long story short, our studio space has been taken away from us. Our home for 35+ years now belongs to Retriever Essentials, the campus food bank, to be used as temporary storage space. We have serious objections to this plan. We have been told to our faces that it is “not a smart use of the space” to allow us to return to operations in the studio. How is converting a purpose-built radio station space (complete with broadcast studio, office, recording space, and media storage) into food bank storage the “smart” use of this space? There is a ton of equipment already in the radio station that will have to go somewhere. We have been assured that the media library and equipment will be kept somewhere on campus (though they don’t know where that is yet). Oh, so there is storage space available! So…can Retriever Essentials just use that space? “That’s not how it works.” This came directly from one of the administrators.
The leadership of Retriever Essentials isn’t happy about this, either. They need storage space, but are dismayed to learn that it will be at the expense of a student org that has struggled for years under an administration that is trying to stifle their attempts to restart. However, their hands are tied. Student Affairs has made it clear that they consider this decision final.
As fellow student organizations, we began to talk about a plan to collaborate to share the space. We could move some items out of some rooms and into others, to allow storage, while retaining one or two of the rooms for our skeleton operations. In fact, we thought that would be a fair compromise; both groups would get some of what they needed.
Retriever Essentials student management has repeatedly tried to get Student Affairs leadership to sit down between our three parties to discuss this. These meetings have been refused. WMBC management brought this idea up to the Vice President of Student Affairs and was told, in no uncertain terms, that this was not an option.
Doesn’t this spit in the face of their own, stated campus values? Their own rules and expectations? It sure seems so to us. Maybe there’s a good reason for it, we wouldn’t know. We have never been kept in the loop or told the entire story of what is going on at any stage. UMBC does not respect the voice of its campus, or the people who are just trying to get its voice heard.