Provost's office reverses some performance space restrictions

Student performing arts groups can practice in six new rooms

The Provost’s Office announced at a forum last week it would ease restrictions for performance groups, allowing rehearsals in several academic spaces which had been off-limits up until this point.

Associate Dean of Students Marsh Pattie and Associate Provost Wynne Stuart collaborated to create a “Sound Zone” — making available six previously barred-off rooms in Maury and Minor Hall for performance groups.

“By minimizing academic activities around the zone, disruption to classes, labs, and discussion sections can be avoided,” Pattie said in an email.

At the forum, the Provost’s Office also amended its stance on the two week policy, which prohibited all performance groups from using academic spaces to rehearse except in the two weeks before a performance. Though the restrictions on sound amplification and dancing in these academic spaces remain in place, the change allows performance groups like Shakespeare on the Lawn, which does not require amplification or dancing to rehearse, to once again have broad access to academic facilities.

Construction in Ruffner and New Cabell Hall has decreased the number of available rooms for classes, as well as extracurricular student groups, to its lowest level in 15 years. The room shortage, coupled with noise complaints from discussion sections and concerns about dancing causing damage to floors, caused the University to originally enact the policy.

“Simply put, the renovation of several key academic buildings — New Cabell and Ruffner — has temporarily reduced the number of available spaces for both classes and co-curricular activities,” Pattie said. “While this issue will eventually be resolved as the buildings come back online, we are faced with a crunch this year and we wanted to get creative and figure out a solution that would hopefully help as many groups as possible.”

Fourth-year Engineering student Richard Farella, director of the First Year Players’ production this semester, criticized the University for not consulting with performance organizations before implementing the room reservation changes in the first place.

“We were never told we were being too loud,” Farella said. “If they had told us, we could have addressed this years ago.”

Fourth-year College student Chelsea Marcelin, producer of First Year Players, said she is confident the University has a plan for when these unavailable rooms are once again available for student use.

“Unfortunately there is a huge lack of space due to the construction on Grounds and the renovations of multiple academic spaces this semester, so we are still limited,” Marcelin said. “However, the University has been working with the performance groups to come up with a solution for now, and we hope to avoid this problem in the future — especially when we have all those academic spaces back for use.”

Farella called this a good step for interaction between the University and the student performance groups. “We are on the closer page with the University than ever before,” he said. “It is certainly a step forward.”

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