New office in Strebel looks to improve the work of the Student Government Association


Alexandria Leland

Communications Director Erin Taylor ’24 and Comptroller and Class of 2023 President Katelyn Calkins ’23 using the conference table in the SGA Lounge

Mickale Thompson, Features Editor

The Ralph F. Strebel Student Center is renowned as the heart of campus for Utica University students and contains a variety of resources and entertainment opportunities. The change of the 24/7 computer lab to an SGA office caught the attention of students on campus.

According to Assoc. Provost and Vice President for Information Technology Matthew Carr, it was a two-pronged decision to take the Strebel 102 computer lab offline.

First, the software application run by the integrated technology information service contains statistics of how many computers are being logged into and a given time through the day. Second, with the advent of access control on all the academic buildings in the last couple of years, the institution this fall will make academic buildings available to students around the clock 24/7.

The decision to move the lab was based on how many computers were being used at a specific time.

“We found that over time, usage in the Strebel 102 lab student center has really decreased,” Carr said. “At any given time we would see no more than three computers in use. It became clear to us that the amount of space being utilized for a computer lab was no longer necessary for the needs being demonstrated by the students. We wanted to look at other ways to utilize the needed space while not removing access to computer resources for students.”

Knowing that the student body as a whole needs computer resources the alternative was to have computer labs available in the academic buildings.

“Any student that is currently enrolled can take their ID card to any building with a computer lab on campus except for the residence hall as long as there’s not a class taking place they have access to those resources,” Carr said. “At the same time, we wanted to make sure because Strebel is a building where students can congregate, it was important that we kept some computer access on the second floor where students who only need quick access can use the two computers we have there. The number is chosen specifically because of the usage statistics.”

Now that the space is now an office for SGA, many wonder if the space will be used more effectively as opposed to when it was a computer lab.

“One of the things we’ve talked about with the SGA President Colby was to make the Strebel student center more of an opportunity for student organizations and for students to have fun and have the spaces dedicated for that reason,” Carr said. “This allowed us to help with that innovation and push the academic work and resources to the academic buildings. Again we’re not taking away we’re adding more opportunities so both student activities and organizations in Strebel and academic activities in the academic buildings themselves.”

The decision to turn the Strebel computer lab into an SGA office, formerly located across from the health center, would cause many changes in Strebel.

“It wasn’t a decision to just relocate the SGA office; it played into the bigger reshuffling of all the offices in the Strebel Building,” said President of the Student Government Association, Colby Kusinitz. “To the best of my knowledge, the reason the computer lab was able to go offline was that, and once again to the best of my understanding, the main use of the lab was for people to print. This was determined by Dr. Matthew Carr. Because of this, we felt that in order to help the larger population and to allow this shuffle to happen, it was best to take the room offline.”

According to Kusintz, it was a command decision made internally by his team and the other stakeholders in Strebel and approval of the Space Committee to choose the Strebel 102 lab as the new office space.

“One of the main reasons, in my opinion, was the counselor center,” Kusinitz said. “There was a counselor in the SLCE office, and the only way they could see patients was if the patient walked through the SLCE office, and that is awkward when everyone is there. That was the main reason the counseling center needed quite a confidential space to work. Student living wanted to be close together instead of having two offices between them. This shift was remedied by putting two computers and printers outside of WPNR and the eight other computer labs on campus so if students need to print, they can. I think, overall, this was a logical progression in the development of Strebel.”

The new SGA office is an upgrade from its previous location and many hope that it will benefit SGA and the work they do.

“A lot of our members and myself spend time in the office and the camaraderie, trust and the relationships that are built here translate into better events, people wanting to come and work the event,”  Kusinitz said. “For everyone to have a space where they can hangout and have access you can’t beat or recreate that. We’re like a team or a club but our work affects the entire school. I’m under the belief that my SGA is a fun SGA as we do anything to improve the student experience and have fun.”

Student issues are at the top of SGA priority and this office will aid in that process.

“We also make sure we focus on the issues that affect the school because as much as the majority is the majority you can’t forget the minority,” Kusinitz said. “However I also don’t think it’s right to only focus on the minority issue and not the majority.  It is important for this SGA to have a balance and having the space where other clubs and leaders communicate and plan events is a set in the right direction.”

According to junior cybersecurity major Melhea Gachette, the office will improve student life because it is a bigger, a well known location and it will encourage more students to converse with student leaders.

Other students are welcoming to the new change and believe it will benefit students in the return.

“I can see the new chance benefiting students,” senior sociology and anthropology major Gigi Demir said. “There is now more space for the health and wellness center, which means more services for students that need counseling, to see a nurse or doctor, or are feeling unwell. Our mental and physical health come first.”