Swing Space Building Plans Updated to Have Two Floors
The new proposal of the necessary Swing Space Building had many protesting its structure, location, and longevity. However, earlier this week, President Glotzbach released a statement explaining that the building will now be two stories instead of one, reducing its footprint.
Students have been fighting for a more sustainable building since the proposal was announced. Many were upset that the building would be placed in the woods, would not have as many sustainable features as other buildings on campus and would be a large structure existing for at about thirty years. However, the new announcement brings hope for many who were worried about the environmental aspect.
Professor Rik Scarce, who serves on the sustainability subcommittee and helped organize the original protest, was relieved to hear about the college’s decision. However, he remains unsure about what this event means for Skidmore.
“The president told the faculty that the SSB is not indicative of the administration’s commitment to sustainability, yet it proposed a building with nothing to recommend it in terms of sustainability,” explained Scarce. “If Skidmore is serious about sustainability, it can’t pick and choose when it pursues Goal IV of the Strategic Plan. It needs to be consistent.”
After the protest, an open senate was held on Mar. 26 with Dean Cerri Banks and Vice President of Finance Donna Ng. Students were able to ask questions and voice concerns. During this meeting, Banks mentioned that financial aid would be affected if the school added a second floor, citing the one million dollar price tag. However, Ng confirmed the money will come from the existing CIS contingency.
“I think that there probably was a little bit of a miscommunication,” explained Ng. “To clarify, the capital budget — which is what the CIS building is, the 127 million dollars — is one time money. It’s set aside to do one thing only; it’s for the CIS. Financial aid is ongoing in our operating budget.”
The additional second floor will be covered by funds already allocated in the contingency line of the CIS. Because of the project’s nature as construction and length of time, a contingency is included in the budget — which leaves funds available for more developments or surprise challenges over the construction period of five years. The one million needed for the second floor will come out of this contingency, which simply means there will be less money within that line if future issues occur.
According to Ng, the message she and Banks were attempting to portray was that Skidmore “needs to be careful with the choices we make with funding resources. When we have resources, we need to be very careful and mindful of how we spend it.” Banks was reached for comment, but declined to respond before the date of publication.
As news of the update continues to come out, students are enthusiastic about what this means for Skidmore and its objectives. Greta Binzen ’19 explained how the update is a step in the right direction to adhering to the school’s sustainability goals. “I do feel like the opinions of students and the members of the CSS were taken seriously in making that decision. I'll probably never be over the moon about the swing space building but I do feel like the changes that have been made are a win for sustainability.”
Sustainability Commissioner Kate Bjorklund ’20 also expressed how she feels as though the update is a positive aspect of the entire project. She explained how “this improvement significantly reduces the building’s original energy usage and overall footprint.”
However, the SSB will not include many sustainable structures, as it is just a necessary add on to the CIS — a project many are proud of for its commitment to sustainability. This was also seen when Skidmore built the Northwoods Apartments and the Tang Museum. Despite this, Bjorklund noted how “we still have a long way to go in terms of demonstrating commitment to sustainability, but I’m proud of the students who rallied. The impact of this building goes beyond just the tear down of a section of trees.”
Scarce echoed these sentiments, adding that “It is unfortunate that the SSB created the tensions it did. It didn’t have to be that way.” According to the professor, the college and student body could have benefited from more extensive communication, with listening the main focus. “When conversations about important issues are foreshortened on this campus, lots of things suffer: our values, morale, the environment, even the facts.”
Moving forward, Ng encourages students to reach out to their representatives, especially at an administrative level. This way topics brought up through senate meetings, or hallway discussions, can be addressed by cabinet members. “It is very important for students to make sure they know who that representative is, maybe also make sure you have a structure where you ask them questions about what’s happening.” Skidmore News reached out to both, but they denied to comment before the date of publication.
As plans for both the CIS and SSB move forward, new updates are bound to occur to make both spaces as enjoyable as possible.