Colleagues room exclusive to faculty and staff

Ashley Gordon

The Colleagues Room opened its doors exclusively to CSUN faculty and staff Jan. 12, offering employees the opportunity to meet around linen-covered tables with centerpieces of fresh-cut flowers and a second floor aerial view of the campus.

As students ascend the stairs to the Sierra Center’s second floor, they’re encountered with the frosted doors of the Colleagues Room and mixed feelings as to whether the cut in student seating to accommodate the room is beneficial to the CSUN student population.

‘I think that because it is a closed-off area it can be utilized as a (separate) section but I don’t think that it should be an exclusive section, an area that keeps people out,’ said Ashley Slothower, a sophomore art major.

Though still open to students on rainy days, the room was formerly used by the campus community to study, complete assignments and work on group projects.

Dave Nirenberg, director of commercial services for the The University Corporation, a non-profit auxiliary corporation providing commercial and administrative services to the campus, said students were taken into consideration during development of the Colleagues Room.

‘We were very concerned about that,’ said Nirenberg. ‘We took this action to (the TUC) board of directors which has six students sitting on it. We took comments from them and they had some of the same concerns.’

However, Nirenber explained that although there’s a decrease in the seating area on the second floor of the Sierra Center by approximately 70 seats, various seating projects have increased seating elsewhere on campus.

‘In the last five years we have created 1,300 seating spaces for students,’ said Nirenberg. ‘Last year we created the deck project within the Matador Bookstore.’ That project in total added 150 seats to our inventory of seats. Last fall we opened up the Arbor Grill, another 300 seats.’

Alexander Standridge, a senior computer engineering major, acknowledges the seating area increase’ at the Matador Bookstore and Arbor Grill, but finds fault in both locations.

‘I’ve been over to the bookstore,’ said Standridge, 25. ‘It’s kind of nice but there’s not a lot of seating and there’s not a lot of outlets for laptops. And the seating over by the Arbor is outside.’

The only area designated for faculty and staff to congregate on campus before the creation of the Colleagues Room was the University Club, located at the corner of Dearborn Street and Zelzah Avenue. However, the University Club’s location isn’t central to the campus and is open to students as well as CSUN employees.

‘We had requests from (the TUC board of directors) and other community members to look for another opportunity to create a place that was more campus-central and to provide a space where faculty and staff could get together and enjoy lunch or breakfast,’ said Nirenberg.

Nirenberg also said Sierra Center’s second floor was the only place on campus that could be used as a functional dining and/or meeting area.

The Colleagues Room is slowly starting to serve its purpose in providing a space for CSUN employees from different departments to congregate.

‘I’m happy to see three of my colleagues from physics here because the first two times I was here I was by myself,’ said Michael Neubauer, professor of mathematics and director of developmental mathematics.

Nirenberg said the Colleagues Room is still in its experimental phase and if the TUC finds that faculty and staff haven’t made good use of the space, then it could easily be reopened to students.

Neubauer, who has already visited the space three times, thinks it will be nice to see faculty and staff that he doesn’t get the opportunity to see on a regular basis.

‘I hope it works and I hope people will make use of it,’ said Neubauer.