Under the Couch reopens, policy changes announced

Photo by Casey Gomez

On Feb. 26, the Musician’s Network announced during their general meeting that after-hours events at Under the Couch would resume on the following Wednesday, Feb. 28. The club also announced that they would still be booking practice times with the same hours as before. Members of Musician’s Network would still book their practice times through the group’s vice president, according to the announcement.

Officers for Musician’s Network confirmed that they had met with Student Center staff in order to discuss the policy changes which would be implemented following the resumption of
after-hours events.

During the general meeting, the group claimed to have received over 300 responses to the petition they circulated in response to the initial closings. They also discussed a number of changes regarding Under the Couch, including new policies and physical additions to the space.

Benjamin Williams, Associate Program Director for Under the Couch, spoke with the Technique about a number of the additions and policy changes that would be implemented in the space
in the near future.

Williams confirmed that Musician’s Network officers would retain their keys to the interior doors of Under the Couch, while the outside door would be receiving a student ID scanner to accommodate easier access to the space.

Musician’s Network announced during their general meeting that students who book practice times may be able to use the ID reader to access the space.

According to Williams, part of the reason for adding the ID scanner was to allow officers easier access to the space without the need for a Guest Services Manager (GSM) to unlock the outer doors to Under the Couch.

Both Williams and Musician’s Network confirmed that a digital keypad would be added to the practice room doors inside the venue to allow Musician’s Network members to access the rooms if they have paid their practice fees for the semester.

Student Center workers will not be present at practice times, per Williams, but they will be present at all other events held in Under the Couch, including those booked by Musician’s Network and other student organizations on campus.

Beginning April 1, artists who perform in Under the Couch who are not affiliated with Tech will be required to sign a formal performance agreement. Prior to 2015, the associate program director for Under the Couch required artists to sign a similar agreement, according to Williams.

“It’s signed by the outside group; it’s signed by their advisor,” said Williams about the performance agreement. “Then it will be signed by me or by a representative of the Student Center.”

Williams cited the agreement as a more practical alternative to a venue contract and stated that “[the agreement] is something that we’re still kind of working on. We are granting — currently, up until April 1 they don’t need these, but there is a world where if this is not ready, then we’ll give a greater extension.”

With regards to the open mic nights that Musician’s Network holds in Under the Couch, Williams said “it’s more going to be like figuring out what kind of liability waiver needs to be in place,” instead of using the performance agreement required for specific artists booked by
Musician’s Network.

Williams also expressed hope that having Student Center staff at events like the open mic night may help with conflict resolution, stating that “a member of a student org may not feel comfortable if they see something weird going on, but our staff — that’s their

According to both Williams and Musician’s Network, there is no agreement in place to prevent a similar shutdown in the future. “Whether it’s the use of any room, whether it’s Tech Rec, Paper and Clay or Under the Couch, our intention is to never have to displace activities, create challenges for students or inconvenience students,” said Williams. “That’s why the Student Center took on the cost of paying for practice room space in West Village both weekends that [Under the Couch] was shut.

“If there were to be something that came up that we felt required a pause… I can’t say that we wouldn’t do it again,” stated Williams with regards to Under
the Couch. “It is kind of within a building manager’s right to make those decisions… My hope is that we’re at the point where there isn’t anything else that comes up that would require that.”

Williams expressed hope that the relationship between Musician’s Network and the Student Center would improve, saying that “what I think that has come out of [this event] and what I hope comes out of it — MN saw what we saw as an issue and we talked about it and then we figured out how to move forward. That’s really what our relationship should be and I think can be.”