Student groups seek storage space from USC

Last Sunday was an early morning for junior Ariana Shives.

Shives is president of Kicks for Kids, a student organization that provides exercise opportunities for disabled children in the community every Sunday. Hours before the event started, Shives and other volunteers carried their equipment from apartments scattered around the USC campus, taking two to three trips to lug soccer balls, goals, boxes of food and other items to McCarthy Quad.

Without a storage space on campus, the 12-member Kicks for Kids executive board is forced to store everything required for their club in their own residences. It’s a logistical issue that they say takes up hours of extra time and effort each week — and it’s something that Shives wants the University to address.

“Student organizations are an integral part of campus life, and I think it’s the job of the administration to support that,” Shives said. “This is something that we struggle with on a daily basis, and it feels like such an unnecessary struggle. We should not have to worry about this.”

A lack of storage space isn’t a problem unique to Kicks for Kids. The University doesn’t provide storage space for any student organization.

Both Shives and senior Dawson Ray of USC Science Outreach contacted Undergraduate Student Government President Rini Sampath last year to voice their concerns. Sampath discussed the topic with Assistant Vice Provost for Student Affairs Monique Allard, who explained that providing storage was impossible due to a lack of on-campus space.

“The space issue is something student government is exploring for various communities on campus,” Sampath said. “As an urban campus, it may be difficult to accommodate some of these needs but as we continue to expand our University with projects such as the University Village, I think it is important to explore our options and meet student needs.”

The main difficulty for the University is the sheer number of organizations. There are 835 student organizations on campus, ranging from club sports to backpacking groups, and each has specific storage needs.

According to Programs Manager of Campus Activities Christina Mireles, while the University could provide adequate storage for some clubs, it would be nearly impossible to provide it for all of them.

“When you consider the vast array of student organizations that might need storage, from rowing shells to equestrian horses, from elaborate engineering projects to Japanese fighting swords, there is not a way to have enough stuff to store everything for everyone that might need it on campus,” Mireles said. “As it is, most departments don’t have storage space on campus, only a few do, and many share that space.”

This was the response that the administration gave Kicks for Kids, Science Outreach and other organizations who requested storage space in the past. However, it wasn’t enough for Shives, Ray and other student organization leaders.

“What we hope to see is the administration at least attempting to help us out, even if they can’t do much,” Shives said. “It’s discouraging and frustrating to hear your school just say ‘no’ flat-out, without even examining any options.”

Last year, Ray reached out to other student organizations in the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and found that many — including SC Outfitters and Trojan Dance Marathon — struggled with the same issues. Some organizations stored equipment with a professor or with the department that sponsored them. However, this still made it hard for those organizations to access their equipment on weekends or at other times when professors were out of the office.

“No matter what solution someone came up with, whether that was off-campus storage or putting their stuff under a professor’s desk, there were problems with it,” Ray said. “There wasn’t a perfect solution because there simply wasn’t space to fit things.”

Students said they want the discussion to be about how to provide storage, not about whether it is possible at all. Shives said it would be enough if the University provided each club with a locker for organizational equipment.

Ray believes that a viable solution would be to create an application process that allows organizations to request storage space based on their specific needs. Both agreed that to begin fixing this issue, the University needs to be willing to have an open conversation.

“I think what we want to see the most is a dialogue between the administration and the students,” Shives said. “We want to be heard and we want to work towards a solution. This isn’t a yes-or-no issue. This is a problem that needs to be addressed, not ignored, and we hope that we can see USC do that in the future.”