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UG temporarily closes after staff departure

Grace Montgomery

Contributing Writer

Due to recent staffing changes, the Underground (UG) will not be open this semester. According to The College of Wooster website, the Underground, located under Kittredge Dining Hall, is a “dance club and bar” that hosts a “variety of entertainment and programming” like student performances and dance parties.

Julia Zimmer, the director of Lowry Center and student activities, has had to take on two additional positions because of the recent departure of two staff members. This past summer, Melissa Garcia de la Noceda, the program coordinator for Campus Life, as well as Craig Lutz, the associate director for Lowry Center and Student Activities and the advisor for the Inter-Greek Council, left their positions. Garcia de la Noceda was also in charge of advising Common Grounds, supervising the UG and designing programs for Woo After Dark.

The decision to close the Underground was made because Zimmer did not have the time to devote to training and supervising staff.

“When Melissa left after the school year finished, hiring got stalled. Then Craig left in August, so I had to make tough decisions about what goes and doesn’t go. Also, because the UG has a beer license, we need to make sure that students follow state and federal guidelines by being trained and supervised. I do not have the possibility of doing this with me covering both jobs and my own,” Zimmer stated.

While closing the UG affects which events students are able to organize and attend, the closing also had a significant impact on its student workers.

“We still have our jobs, but it is a bit up in the air in terms of how we will continue to get hours. We have been working with Julia to come up with solutions. Some of us will be on the search committee to fill Melissa’s job while others help with events like Party on the Green,” said Nick Shiach ’20, who has been working at the UG for almost a year as a part of the crew and security team.

When asked about how the student employees fared, Zimmer reinforced this sentiment. “I care about our student employees because if it wasn’t for the students who gave up their nights and weekends to help, the UG would not be what it is. I am making sure students are getting put places, similar to how when Scot Lanes closed we promised jobs in different departments,” Zimmer said.

The UG served as a primary spot to host music events because it had room for dancing and a stage. Kennedy McKain ’19, the editor in chief of the Goliard literary magazine, talked about how the closing affects her group. In particular, she commented on how the UG closing will affect Covers, an event hosted regularly by the Goliard that asks students to perform theme-related songs in groups.

“While I have fond memories of hosting events in the UG, the space was closed my entire first year. The change does not pose a threat to us losing our event,” McKain said.

McKain acknowledged that the UG, while a great gathering space, could use this time to address some issues it poses for musical acts.

“The UG sound system, because of its constant and heavy use, is broken. While the UG staff helps set up, we find it is easy for us to do the work ourselves in the Douglass basement. It is important to recognize the obstacles music and sound oriented events and organizations face,” McKain stated.

The closing of the UG was not an easy decision. Zimmer, who directly supervised the space from 2008-2012, said that the UG has a lot of significance to her.

“I have spent weekends and many hours painting and cleaning the space,” she said. By having the space closed, Zimmer worries that “people will not have the UG on their radar. The last thing I wanted to do was to close.”

Shiach commented that the staff is engaging in ways to eventually re-open the UG.

“We hope to make the UG a more popular destination in the future,” said Shiach.

Zimmer added a similar sentiment. “We are looking at programming, marketing and making sure the UG comes back with a bang,” she said. “Our goal is to be open next semester by diving into training for our student employees.”

 

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