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Deputy Presidents to Lose Offices in Masterplan

Feb 24 2008 16:27
Ashley Brown
Recent revisions to the office layout for the Beit Masterplan show the Deputy Presidents losing their offices, to make way for more staff space.
Beit Office Plans

The three Deputy Presidents will lose their offices under current plans for the new Union offices, being constructed as part of Phase 2 of the Beit Redevelopment. Following changes to the plans related to the dance studio, the next phase will see new offices for staff and Sabbatical Officers created in the current gym on the second floor, under a new mezzanine for the student activities centre.

Phase 2 Space Allocation Changes

Previous plans called for two Deputy President offices, with the DPFS and DPCS sharing one and DPEW and DPGS sharing another. Modifications to the plans last week have shown the sabbs losing their offices, instead being moved to an open-plan space with one desk each. With the DPGS role now defunct, the GSA Chair receives no space in the revised plans and the new member of staff brought in to support the role will receive an open-plan desk.

The current plans for the Beit offices (click to enlarge)

Union officers have expressed concerns at the revised plans, as there seems to be little or no provision for confidential meetings with the three Deputy Presidents. One office is unallocated, which has the potential to be a "hot room" for confidential meetings, if only one DP requires it at a time.

Students were not involved in the changes (including the Sabbatical Officers), however the plans for Phase 2 will be going to the Redevelopment Working Group which anyone may join; interested parties should to join the working group.

Suggestions that the space is unsuitable and should be given more thought have been met with the response that plans were fixed years ago and it would cost too much to change them now. Some members of the union have commented that they would rather spend more now to get a suitable space, than waste millions on a lemon.

It was reported to Council last week that due to the tendering process and preparatory works the start date for Phase 2 has been pushed back from March to August. Based on previous reports, completion is likely to take around twelve months.

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Discussion about “Deputy Presidents to Lose Offices in Masterplan”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
Feb 24 2008 16:42

Ashley you never cease to impress me

Feb 24 2008 16:57

Would I be breaking SSP if I were to speculate as to who's writing that was on the plans?

Probably, I'll keep my mouth shut for once.

3. ...   
Feb 24 2008 17:00

No more electoral promises by prospective DPEWs to always have their door open.... they will not have a door!!!

And by the looks of the plans it seems that the desks for the deputy presidents are being thrown in as an afterthought! Who designed these plans anyway?

Feb 24 2008 17:04

So when Jen has written

"Deliver the Union refurbishment on time and on budget, in an environmentally friendly manner"

how does this point tally with changing a completely impractical lay out? It's bad enough for the last couple of years that certain people have been stroking the egos of the Presidents, telling them how much more important they are than the DPs.

To have them working at completely different ends of the offices isn't going to help this situation and is just going to damage communication within the Sabb team.

Feb 24 2008 17:05

These are plans by the architects, with hand scribbles from a planning meeting which reassign the space.

The original DPs offices can be seen at the top left of the plans, replaced with "DGM" and "<<scribble scribble>>", which is Deputy General Manager and Head of Finance. The office marked "Perm Secretary" (what is now the General Manager again) is the currently unassigned one. The DP desks replace a "breakout" area...

Feb 24 2008 17:08

How does it fit in with the original layout? Is it roughly in the same place as the current union office part of the building, or is it on the west side, or does it span both sides?

Feb 24 2008 17:12

See the first diagram on the article - the yellow block on the second floor, under SAC. The current office area will eventually become a dance studio.

Feb 24 2008 17:12

These plans are unacceptable and must be changed. Contrary to certain individuals' opinions, this IS a democracy and students must have the final say. These plans were not fixed years ago as the offices were only moved to under the new SAC last year and the plans from last year had offices for the Deputy Presidents. If they can change them once, they can change them back again, it's high time certain people realized that it is the students that run this Union, not the staff.

Feb 24 2008 17:16

How come the plans have been advanced to this level before we've even met once?

There's loads of things wrong with that layout.

Feb 24 2008 17:28

The problems may have occured when people have realised that having SAC above the office space is not entirely practical.

As I understand the space below the SAC mezzanine has to be open plan (not sure why). This means there is not enough office space for all the people who 'need' offices. These plans seem to diminish the power of the Sabbatical Team (emphasis on Team). I would be extremely concerned if these are going to be submitted as the final plans.

Feb 24 2008 18:07

They have to be open plan because the mezzanine is only half with. The curved dashed line on the plans is a balcony. How all of SAC is supposed to fit into that space I have no idea.

In my opinion the mezzanine should be full width and then you could have closed offices beneath.

12. Eugene   
Feb 24 2008 20:10

Actually, I would say that an open plan layout is not such a big issue. Sabbs don't really need massive offices to carry out day to day work anyway Other than a desktop, filing trays and whiteboards full of writing, I rarely see anything in the Sabb offices which are used daily.

I think an open plan layout is a more friendly environment to work in and is less intimidating to a first time visitor to Beit towers.

And this member of the Beit Redevelopment Working Group is anxiously awaiting to be invited to attend the first meeting... will it ever happen?

Feb 24 2008 20:12

Eugene has apparently not seen club officers being given a bollocking by the DPFS on a regular basis...

14. Eugene   
Feb 24 2008 20:38

luckily that hasn't happened to me yet this year.

let a bollocking be a bollocking. at the end of the day, its not like we're a bank, dealing with private accounts - club accounts are scrutinisable by all. The above report mentions the potential existence of a private, bookable 'flogging room' if the young DPFS doesn't want to openly embarrass club officers 24/7. All is not lost, engineer.

Feb 24 2008 20:41

Sabbs have lockable offices, sometimes they are used to store stuff that may get knicked otherwise:

Kirsty stores- campaign material for DPEW events

Chris stores- randomly retrieved mascots, prizes for raffles and other stuff like event tickets etc (he has a safe, would that go into an open plan office, it's not ideal)...

In the plan will there be provision for Sabbs to have storage space, wouldn't this put Sabbs in direct competition with clubs, is this a good idea?

They all have sofas facing their desks so that other officers/students can sit down and talk to them, while there is meant to be provision for meetings of a private nature, what about the friendly informal chats, or are we so against open communication... the Sabb desk clusters just don't seem to allow discussion to take place between other officers and the Sabbs.

Also these aren't just offices, they get used by a lot of different people and security is not always great, especialy after office hours. The whole reason for consulting students is to make sure this space is suitable for everyone and not just the daytime needs.

16. Eugene   
Feb 24 2008 21:08

I'm not a sabb so maybe I may not be best qualified to commend but I count as one of the students you refer to. (btw if you posted your real name I could be more polite and address you directly).

1. There is now wrong with a 'Sabb storage space'. Think of all that current space being wasted, with sabbs having large luxurious offices and personal sofas. What if Kirsty's office had no DPEW stuff in it? Could she store some canoes in there instead? Could Steve's office be used to hang up all these muddy tents that currently have to be hung in public access corridors?

2. Desk clusters in open offices ENCOURAGE communcation - if youve ever worked in an open plan office you would realise this. Its also easier to land a hit if you're throwing a paper plane at a fellow Sabb but that's another story.

3. Obviously removing the offices detracts from the 'managerial' image of Sabb officers but that may be a small price to pay for the spatial benefits.

4. Actually, Sabb officers are locked and not used during the evening even if the other rooms are used by stewards for night events. Get your facts right.

Feb 24 2008 21:22

Good points Eugene, but you're missing one thing. Look at the plans more carefully: the President has a huge office tucked away at the back with a meeting room. The General Manager and Deputy GM also get offices with small meeting tables. You could stick the GM and DGM in the back office, the President in one of the ones out front and then have two DP offices, or a hot office and storage...

If you want to kill sabb offices on the basis of space, then this plan doesn't do it.

18. Eugene   
Feb 24 2008 21:41

I agree that this does not look like an ideal solution, but it is on the right lines. Maybe place the Pres closer to his 'team' and stick GM/DGM in that office instead.

All we students need to do now is wait to be called upon by Steve to form this magical working group.

And Jon - whilst I agree that ultimately, students run this Union, it is important to note that we are a transitional bunch (bar the select few) and so it is important to listen to the staff, who were there before we came and will be there when we move on.

On a side note, why can't we just enter the Redevelopment Plan into some daytime TV interior makeover programme? Free publicity and some cut price services are on offer!

Feb 24 2008 21:54

If SAC is being moved into north Beit, what will the current SAC area become?

Feb 24 2008 22:02

Meeting rooms to replace the ones being taken out at the top of Beit.

Feb 24 2008 22:36


Whilst I have taken your comments on board, I feel there is a lot you are missing. The importance of privacy for the DPEW and DPFS cannot be stressed enough - If you wanna have a chat about it I'm sure you'll find me in the SAC this week. (Whilst this makes is sound like i might be "engineer" I can tell you I'm not - this is the first time I have posted on this discussion.

If it is simply a storage problem you are concerned about then two issues need to made clear.

!. This new layout does not readily solve the problem of club storage.

2. All sorts of plans are currently on the way to improve and expand club storage space. (An example of which can be seen if you read the papers from the last exec meeting)

22. Eugene   
Feb 25 2008 00:33

Well, I'm glad you're taking the time to think about it too, and posting as yourself.

Without slating your previous Union experience, I've been involved in clubs (and to some extent welfare) and hence wandering the Beit towers for 3 years now and have some idea of what privacy measures are and are not needed. A separate breakout area, with one private 'hot point' meeting room is more than enough IMO.

Sabbs will spend alot of time away from the office, and the rest they are in each other's rooms anyway.


I was not suggesting this 'masterplan' design solves club storage problems - merely that the current sabb offices are probably oversize to requirements so an open plan office is a viable solution.

Thanks for pointing out the mountaineering store issue. I am (un)fortunate enough to be working on this and other club storage issues already in my other role as a Union officer.

Feb 25 2008 08:57

Why does the president need an office?

Feb 25 2008 11:04


You seem to be the only person posting who is in strongly in favour of the new plans (this is good - this it what makes Live! work). But this is also the reason why I want to have a good chat about it with you. I have been discussing this matter with certain people all weekend and it would be nice to get an opposing view.

25. Eugene   
Feb 25 2008 12:26

My views are exactly as posted. I'm sorry if I don't have the time to book an appointment to fit in with your busy schedule - maybe you could come and catch me when I'm in the SAC?

You should talk to a lot more people who are involved in clubs and you might find that others agree with me. They're just not sad enough to post on Live! about it all the time.

26. Ant   
Feb 25 2008 16:26

I can't believe I'm supporting Sabbs perks here but.. in my time as part time hack/club treasurer/club president I often needed to have conversations with Sabbs that could only be had in closed offices and that needed to be sorted immediately. Their would often be no opportunity to wait for a room to become free (afterall meeting rooms were something that are already short). I hate to think how much more time I would have needed to spend in a Sabb office If I'd ever thought I had a direct welfare issue! Their current offices are oversized I'll agree however the better solution in my opinion would be 2 shared offices with F&S paired up with C&S afterall these are the two that clubs often find themselves angry with or in trouble with at the same time. Not to mention that the idea of a 'hot point' meeting room although sounding a viable alternative would fall apart as soon as two urgent matters came up (you can't timetable everyones crisis), or it would just become another bookable meeting room utilised by everyone, or even worse it would be adopted as someones office when they realise that they need another member of staff for something.

Feb 25 2008 16:32

It seems that college are trying to erode the unions self identity bit by bit. What I see as being said is that essentially college believe that the deputy presidents are nothing more than showpieces.

Feb 25 2008 16:36

It isn't the College drawing up the plans, its the union...

Feb 25 2008 16:50

Surely college have some influence/say in it? I just get the horrible feeling that the union and college are becoming too entwined.

30. Eugene   
Feb 26 2008 01:11

Andrew, does your argument have any rationale behind it - can you back up this idea that College are getting involved?

Something is happening out there but I really don't think the College care about how the DPs' offices will look in the new Union enough to influence design plans

Feb 26 2008 07:21

I was believing that college were financing the project, or at least contributing a significant amount of money. If this is true, surely college would like some say in how it is spent? Correct me if I'm wrong.

Feb 26 2008 08:28

i fully agree with eugene and think that an open plan space is much more inviting for students to come and see the sabbs. the president should be included in this space instead of receiving a spacious office of his/her own. this is a students' union, not a bank office, as was said above, but it seems some old hacks still want to put themselves on a pedestal above others. this union will never truly represent the students it embodies without a friendlier, more open and transparent atmosphere.

Feb 26 2008 09:29

My problem with the plan is not the open-plan issue more the fact that the amount of space given over to the Sabbs themselves, and there are no sofas, not even a sofa room...

Sorry Eugene, mabye you are heavily involved in club activity and you club people don't need sofas... I just can't see Beit Towers functioning without them (slightly over exaggerated, but sofas are important).

Where would Sabbs sleep (after a heavy day/night)?

Where would the staff sleep (after a heavy day/night)?

Where would the stewards sleep/hold meetings?

Where would non Sabb students sit? sofas are more inviting...

Where would we borrow sofas from for plays/events/other things?

There a currently six sofas in the office... I'd settle for two amongst the Sabb desks...

Feb 26 2008 10:02

"They're just not sad enough to post on Live! about it all the time" says the person who has written the most in this thread...

35. Eugene   
Feb 26 2008 13:09

Some of you can't take a joke against yourself can you? Or maybe you don't understand my unique brand of humour, or get self deprecating? Anyway, I happily admit that I'm a loser for spending so much time on Live! but I'm open to anyone who disagrees!

To the long poster above, get yourself an inflatable sofa from Argos - ?6.99 for a single seat (including beer holder), and ?10.99 for a double seater. Maybe Exec would approve of such cost reducing expendditure!

Regarding your other questions - I believe Sabbs have halls to go to. They could sleep in SAC, with or without sleeping bags. The RCC hire out tents for a nominal fee too if all else fails.

The stewards can hold meetings in the empty seats vacated by the Sabbs. And sofas can be sourced from other places - try the Media basement, or Beit common room?

Feb 26 2008 13:54

You mean those sofas that are no longer in the media Basement? And are mouldy and horrible and getting thrown out?

Oh and I can really see Neil McIntyre or the Beit Hall Committee willingly lending their sofas out willy nilly. As an ex-Beit Hall Senior even you should know that is a stupid comment Eugene.

I think we have lost track of the real issue here. It isn't about sofas or which sabb gets an office. I sincerely think that the sabbs will do fine in an open plan office if (and this hasn't been included on the plans) there was a spare 'hot office' that could be used for welfare issues, club rollickings etc.

The issue is that these plans have been changed in the last year and noone has been consulted. The 'Beit Redevelopment Working Group' hasn't met and is unlikely to at any time in the near future. Space, offices and desks have been allocated without any thought being given to the needs of the people using the space, staff or student, and the efficiency of the building should these plans be finalised. Imagine the progression a student makes through the office as it is at present. In my view the plans are completely upside down.

Do we really need a working group that will discuss nothing more than the window dressings and the colour of the carpet? Where is the real student involvement? Even Eugene should be annoyed that he hasn't at least been asked if he likes the plans even though he does. Is this an assumption that everyone is happy for the Union President to make alone?

37. Eugene   
Feb 26 2008 14:16

OK OK, I was trying to inject some humour.

I agree that sofas are a sideline to the real issue and I'm glad that other people are accepting of the open plan office idea.

I and others are awaiting contact by Steve - if he gets any input in the matter at all I'm sure he will get in touch.

If he doesn't then yes I'd like to see that the students continue to get a say on this matter.

Feb 26 2008 14:48

Surely there are more serious issues at hand in the union than the discussion of where the desks and sofas go?

The masterplan from the very beginning has been a ridiculous concept - how can you plan a building/space by committee? every year new officers suggest we do things differently, sure, but get the money first.

Feb 26 2008 16:24

Engineer, how else do you propose the building project is planned? By dictatorship?

And before anyone says that this is not how it happens in big business then take a look at how College manages its building projects: by steering committees! Ask the DPEW, she sits on some of them.

There are issues more important than desks and sofas, of course. This being the slightly more permanent things like partition walls and kithchenettes and Offices which will dictate where the desks and sofas will go. With regards to the money issue: is the office redevelopment part of Phase 2 or Phase 3?

Eugene you are misinformed if you think that Steve would consult you (The Working Group) as soon as he is invited to give input. Currently the only person giving input is the President. Do you think these plans materialised out of nowhere?!

Feb 27 2008 13:23

"Committee?" - of course the alternative to developing a building by committee, is by dictatorship, it works in China!

But more to the point, a bunch of students representing tiny minorities with absolutely no idea about what they want or what the impact of their decisions will be is hardly the "committee" of people suited to deciding where the sofa goes. Its upto informed architects and engineers with years of experience and possibly the people who actually use the space to make those decisions - I always loved it when the architects were asked to attend exec and council and explain their plans - I think their thoughts were "I am billing this!"

41. China?   
Feb 28 2008 09:57

Do you know what else works in China?

Eating Dogs - Marrying your brother - and Chinese people. Chinese people work their a**e off to make it work - and they don't mind being led by Hitler - in England, well, we don't like being told what to do and we are all lazy fuc-king cu-nts!

42. lolz   
Feb 29 2008 16:09

People don't eat dogs in china, they eat them in Korea, and Hitler was the leader of Germany.

Mar 02 2008 12:05

Firstly - Hitler was being used as a synonym for dictator. There was no reference to him being leader of China

Secondly - There are only two countries in the world - The first country is called England. The second country is called Foreign. In the Foreign - they are instructed to eat dogs by Uncle Adolf!

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