Delta Sigma Pi President Amanda Otten is facing significant opposition as she tries to bring a new community charity event to Drake’s campus, and she appealed to Student Senate for support during their meeting on Thursday.
Otten, a senior, says they have been trying for a year to organize an event with the March of Dimes Foundation, a non-profit organization benefitting premature babies and their mothers.
“There’s never been one done in Des Moines yet,” she said. “So it’d be a really big deal and a way to get the community on campus as well.”
But, she told Senate, she’s encountered some obstacles while planning, mostly in dealing with the university’s athletic department.
Conflict is centered around Otten’s desire to use the Knapp Center as the site for the event, and in particular, on the use of the gym floor.
The main focus of the event is for participants to tape a design on the ground and use dimes to fill it in, an activity Otten said the athletic department worries will damage the floor’s surface.
“I know that the conservation of the gym floor is a big deal and it would cost a lot of money to repair if something were to happen to it,” she said. “However, I feel that this would be a great opportunity for Drake.”
She asked Senate for help. “I was hoping to get some support and backing in a way that we could convince them to let us use the center,” she said.
Sen. Reed Allen was quick to step up in favor.
He said that as the former president of Delta Sigma Pi, the March of Dimes Foundation had actually approached their community chair with interest in using Drake as the site for the fundraising event. He, too, faced resistance in the name of protecting the gym floor.
The floor is covered during some events, like graduation, but Allen said, “we were told in talking to them (the athletic department) that it costs a lot of money and time to put that floor down.”
He and Otten both voiced their concern that other locations aren’t as well suited for what the organizers want to do. According to Otten, the hope is to have carnival games and other attractions to encourage visitors to stick around for a while, not just come to lay some spare change down on the floor. She’s also looking at teaming up with media outlets and food vendors from around the Des Moines area.
“My vision is huge,” Otten said. “I kind of need the space for it.”
Several senators mentioned that the floor was new and very expensive and that they appreciated the effort to maintain it. However, every person who spoke was in favor of finding some sort of compromise.
Some were more forthright than others were.
“I understand the importance of keeping the Knapp Center pristine,” Sen. Megan Hutcheson said. “But we are also a small school where we don’t have a lot of other space. So the university is going to have to find a way to handle it. Either we have a new space, or they need to let us use it.”
As this situation was time sensitive, however, Hutcheson proposed an alternative solution in order to move planning for this particular event forward.
She suggested using the Bell Center floor as a space for the dimes and tape, and using other places within the facility for the games or activities that Delta Sigma Pi was planning.
Sen. Kensie Smith and Sen. Amanda Laurent also offered their outspoken backing.
“This is a really big thing, this is a lot of money raised, this is a lot of Drake students involved, this is a lot of community potential,” Smith said. “I’m willing to support this with whatever means necessary.”
Allen said he would move forward to find ways for Senate to provide Delta Sigma Pi with the help they were requesting.
“To me it’s a $9,000 potential we could raise for a charity,” he said. “Seems like the university, in my opinion, should do everything in its power to make that available to a student organization.”