Because of the renovation of Wheeler Hall this upcoming school year, student groups that formerly used the space are seeking out alternative places to meet.
Student organizations registered through the ASUC LEAD Center are allowed to make room reservations online at least three days in advance — at no cost — in campus buildings such as Barrows Hall, Dwinelle Hall, Evans Hall and previously Wheeler Hall. This summer, the campus announced a new policy limiting the weekday hours student groups can reserve through the LEAD Center from 30 weekday reservations to 20 reservations per semester.
Some student organizations said they have had difficulties adjusting their meeting schedules in light of the reservation limits.
“For example, if during the semester a club has 15 one-hour weekly meetings and two one-hour info sessions, it only has three hours of event reservation time left for the entire semester,” said Amelia Sadler, vice president of events for the Berkeley Forum.
CalLink student group members received an email announcing the new policy in late July that encouraged student groups to explore alternatives to general classrooms, such as spaces in Eshleman Hall and the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union. Additionally, the email suggested student groups consider departmentally managed rooms, local eating establishments or nearby conference facilities. The LEAD Center provides a list of areas on campus that may be reserved, although some require a fee.
According to campus spokesperson Adam Ratliff, the Wheeler Hall renovations have removed 29 general assignment classrooms this academic year that students could once reserve. Ratliff noted in an email that the campus has tried to accommodate student groups by allowing them to reserve additional rooms, such as 245 Hearst Gym.
University Registrar Walter Wong, however, said the replacements are “not one-for-one in terms of functionality.”
Student groups will no longer be able to book rooms through the Wheeler Late Night Program, which allowed the use of rooms Monday through Thursday from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
One campus club, the Debate Society of Berkeley, is hoping to find a departmental sponsor. Departmental sponsors, such as some faculty members, have more freedom in assigning rooms in their department buildings, according to Henry Weikel, president of the Debate Society of Berkeley.
Faculty and staff in academic departments formerly based in Wheeler Hall have temporarily moved elsewhere on campus. Some of the largest classes on campus that formerly met there, such as Computer Science 61A, have been temporarily moved to locations such as Pauley Ballroom.
“Whatever squeeze the students are feeling, the staff are probably feeling it even more,” Wong said.
Wheeler Hall is scheduled to reopen for the fall 2017 semester.