A portable dance floor in Carlton Commons will soon be available for campus dance groups to use, which marks the culmination of months of coordination between administration, the Undergraduate Student Government (USG), Tinkham Veale University Center (TVUC) and student dance groups to create more practice space.
Currently, two-thirds of the floor is assembled, and the remaining pieces will soon be delivered. The dance floor will remain in Carlton Commons for the fall and spring semesters, but will be moved to TVUC during the winter, spring, and summer breaks to accommodate weddings and other events booked there.
The lack of dance space on campus was brought to the administration’s attention by various dance groups in September 2014. David Aghassi, the former president of Swing Dancing Club, made the initial proposal to Vice President for Student Affairs Lou Stark, and USG was also brought in to help determine the issues at hand.
According to Aghassi, one of the major difficulties was finding practice space on campus, especially since athletic facilities tend to prioritize varsity and club sports. Since wood is the ideal surface for dancing in terms of surface texture and cushioning, Aghassi says it was necessary for dance groups to have a designated space.
“I believe the new floor will help to alleviate some of the booking issues occurring around campus,” said Aghassi. “In addition, the increased availability of dance spaces on campus will allow clubs to grow, which allows more students to participate.”
Garretson Oester, currently a representative in the USG Finance Committee, worked with the Office of Student Activities and Leadership, the Department of Physical Education and Athletics, TVUC and student dance groups during the initial meetings to help develop viable solutions to the problem.
During the coordination efforts, it was agreed that a portable dance floor was the best possible solution. USG paid to purchase the floor and TVUC, as per the agreement, will pay for its maintenance and upkeep.
The dance floor initially cost $22,091, but due to delivery issues which delayed the proposed June 2015 shipping date, the cost was significantly lowered.
“The floor[’s existence was] reached between Student Activities and Leadership, who books the space, USG, who owns the floor, and the Tink, who can use the floor, and the dance groups, who can use the floor [in Carlton Commons],” said Oester.
Although Aghassi felt that the project took a long time to make progress, he also said it is a step in the right direction. He stressed that dance is a creative outlet that has the ability to improve student life.
“I constantly hear how the university isn’t meeting certain needs,” said Aghassi. “I don’t believe that is the case. I believe they are prioritizing what they see is important. If you want your need to be prioritized, make your case.”
Aghassi also described the difficulty he experienced navigating through university administrative facilities and student organizations to develop concrete solutions.
“The tools are there, but the ability to find them is difficult,” said Aghassi. “While it is touted that the administration and USG are open to student voice, I never found a ‘go-to’ person or office.”
Aghassi is currently working with Stark and other interested members to find ways to allocate funding for the renovation of Thwing Ballroom, which would introduce an additional recreational and dance space on campus.
“I believe this is just the start of major changes to come to the undergraduate dance experience in the coming years,” said Aghassi. “These are the growing pains we have to experience, but it will all be worth it in the long run.”