Who Needs Space Anyway?

There’s a poignant scene in the movie Office Space that’s speaks to the millions of us stuck working as cubicle rats. The main character dismantles the thin walls of his office cube, causing them to fall to the floor. He leans back in his chair, arms behind his head, wearing a giant smile of accomplishment as he relieves his cubicle claustrophobia.

Many of us choose Montana for its wide-open spaces, a defiance against a crowded world getting ever more crowded by elevators, parking lots, traffic jams, and of course, the precarious office cubicle—which leads to the topic of the SOB Barn on the MSU campus.

The SOB Barn stands tall as an agricultural icon, symbolizing the vastness of large fields and vast lands; yet its integrity is being negotiated by MSU’s Auxiliary Services Department who proposes to convert it to, well, office space.

SOB stands for “Save Our Barn,” a student campaign run from 1968-72 objecting to the administration’s proposal to tear it down. The students won. As a result, the building is now a part of the Board of Regents historical buildings registry.

Auxiliary Services (a branch that deals with food services and residence halls) is proposing to oust ASMSU’s Outdoor Recreation Department from the barn and fill it up with office clutter: copy machines, fax machines, office furniture, and yes, cubicles. Student opinion is said to be mixed, though it greatly affects some—like the swing, tango, and country dance clubs that regularly use the sprawling, high-ceilinged dance floor on the barn’s second level. One of only a few such venues in town—and by far the cheapest—the dance floor will be cut in half if the proposition goes through.

At press time there is no student campaign to overturn this action. But even those who don’t dance should consider this: MSU also compartmentalized the old wrestling room in the Romney basement—once a wide-open, padded room perfect for karate, boxing, gymnastics, and exercise of all kinds—turning it into a cluttered art studio with wall-to-wall lockers. Open space, it seems, is threatened indoors as well as out—and like the short-sighted land developers around the Gallatin Valley, the MSU administration seems intent on carving up whatever open space it can find. If this concerns you, or if you want more information about the SOB proposal, contact Tom Stump, director of Auxiliary Services, at 994-2661.