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Student Union! You in?

At Brooklyn Tech, there is often uncertainty regarding the availability and accessibility of space for each of its 6,000 students to spend their free periods. Due to noise and safety issues, the rule that mandates that students cannot spend their free periods lining the hallways, once relaxed due to COVID-19 concerns, has been strictly enforced since September 2023. In hopes of alleviating part of this issue, Principal David Newman has created what he calls the “Student Union,” a lounge in the basement where seniors can relax and spend time with friends. “Brooklyn Tech Student Union/Brought to you by Principal David Newman,” reads the sign on the door which officially opened to seniors on Monday, March 11th.

The Student Union repurposes room BS12, which was previously one of four New York City Department of Education (DOE) Family Welcome Centers (FWC) that assist families with application to, and enrollment in, New York City public schools, the Student Union. Most recently, the room had also been used as a practice space for Tech Sports, including Stunt and Cheer. On May 10th, the room officially stopped being an FWC to make space for the Student Union and the golf gym class. The gym class meets right next to the Student Union room, where the school’s golf simulator is located.

Initially, Mr. Newman had intended for the Student Union to be open to students across all grades.  “I had this idea to have some space where students can just exist… [where] kids can socialize… and not be confined to the hallway,” he said. However, he struggled to find a way to fit large numbers of students into the room and ultimately opted to make the Student Union exclusive to seniors. To ensure that only seniors are using the Union, and only during their free periods, students have to swipe in using their IDs, similarly to how they enter the cafeteria and school building each day. 

The Student Union offers games such as ping pong, air hockey, and pool. These activities serve to give students a mental break, and a chance to socialize with classmates in a relaxed environment. 

According to the school aide and supervisor for the Student Union, Doreatha Redd, in addition to playing games, some seniors come for quiet time, while others come just to eat privately. “I get fantastic seniors that come down, and they know that this is an open door, no judgment [space],” she added. The union’s popularity has increased, as its existence continues to be spread through word of mouth.

Social Science Research majors Michelle Rakhnayev (‘24) and Audrey Chan (‘24) used to spend their free periods in the cafeteria, but now choose the Student Union. Rakhnayev explained that she is drawn to “the bean bags, because [she and Chan] get to just sit, relax, chill, and talk.” Chan also enjoys the vibe. “There is no service or food, we like just lazing around,” she said. Rakhnayev and Chan still go up to the cafeteria when they get hungry, and as long as students notify Ms. Redd they can leave and come back. 

The Student Union provides a secluded environment for students to complete assignments or homework. The room is laid out such that students who want to get work done can without too much interruption from those playing the games, so it accommodates different needs.  In his Student Union announcement email to seniors, Mr. Newman stated that there will eventually be computers lining the outer wall of the room to make the space even more productive. 

Rakhnayev likes how the Union does not usually have a lot of people, unlike most other spaces in Tech. The maximum number of kids allowed in the room is 52 to avoid overcrowding, although the room often does not reach this limit. “At lunch, you have to run for a booth, or in the library you have to stand in line and you probably won’t get in,” Rakhnayev lamented. A limit on the number of students allowed into the Union solves this problem. 

Newman emphasized the importance of rooms like these stating, “These things bring people together in important ways that maybe a classroom environment doesn’t.”

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About the Contributor
Bee Bruce
Bee Bruce, Staff Writer
Bee (she/her) is a Staff Writer. Bee is on The Survey because she loves writing and researching all things Brooklyn Tech, as well as sharing a community with other writers. Bee is interested in journalism because she loves sharing thoughts and ideas and journalism is a wonderful way to do that. Bee reads The New York Times and The Washington Post. Bee's future career goals include being an anchor or journalist for a news outlet, because she loves researching and writing/speaking about current events, especially when it benefits a population. She would also like to explore being a short story writer or novelist. Whatever career path she takes she knows she wants to reach her with her writing or speaking and make an impact that is made possible through the written word. In her free time, Bee likes to read books, compete in karate, go thrifting with friends, and watch movies with her family. Bee's favorite book is Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

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