Vassar student spaces require upgrades

For several years now, there have been plans for the Barnes & Noble located within the College Center to relocate off campus. The store, originally looking to take up space on the corner of Collegeview and Raymond Ave. where the Juliet Cafe once stood, has been pressuring to move in order to accommodate a wider variety of stock. However, since the Recession, these plans have all but evaporated, leaving Juliet with an iconic for-lease sign instead. As a result, the bookstore shall remain where it is for the time being, and the plans for a new 24-hour space have gone up in smoke.

The need for a new 24-hour space at Vassar have been years in the making. In recent memory, UpC, the iconic spot for late-night treats and R&R, has served as this space for students.

While it is to some extent a useful space, UpC is nonetheless plagued by a 2 a.m. closing time, limiting accommodations for study groups, and has unfortunately also taken away a space once vital for campus parties and events. As a result, a need is arising to somehow both open up UpC into a usable space for events and campus venues once more while also creating a much more accommodating space here at Vassar for students at all hours.

To solve the need for a more accommodating space for students looking for everything from a late-night snack to a group-study room, the original plan was to use the student space—at least until the Bookstore decided not to make its move off campus.

While College Properties LLC is in the process of leasing the Juliet Cafe space to a new vendor, we students are currently in need of a much more accommodating student space, and the VSA must find a way to better create one. The actual solution to this is not an easy one, as a new student space here at Vassar needs to fulfill several needs.  For one, it needs to be available late at night, or if possible at all hours every day. Second, it should offer some sort of late-night dining option for students who miss out on the ACDC. Third, it needs to offer comfortable environment, and finally it needs to offer resources that students need at all hours.

There are a number of things that could be done to perhaps create this ideal space.  One idea from Administration was to turn the East Wing of the ACDC into a new sort of late-night space once the dining center had closed at 8 p.m. While this would open up UpC for events once more and perhaps also offer more late-night food options, the problem remains that most would not consider the East Wing of the ACDC (denoted “EastC” at the most recent Council meeting) to be an exactly comforting space, much like UpC.

While most at the Council meeting, where this discussion occurred, mentioned the option of extending Retreat hours, Administration expressed concern that this would be less logistically possible than “EastC,” though exact specifics have not yet been stated.  In either case, the progress made so far for a new student space has, for the meantime, been slowed by the Bookstore’s decision to remain where it is. The best alternative location for this student space has yet to be discovered, and it won’t be until next year that we see more progress be made on how to proceed with the creation of a future student space.

Personally, the idea of a student space would not fit anywhere else than within the College Center, purely because of its location. The Student’s Building, as much as I love the ACDC and UpC, cannot fulfill what I think the College Center can in terms of accessibility at all hours. Whether this means the CCMPR, Retreat, or other space within the College Center be repurposed I am unsure. While the short term and long term goals of whichever spot is picked to serve as a student space may differ, I sincerely hope the VSA and Vassar Administration alike take into consideration the value of the College Center as a student space, and how much the Retreat, CCMPR, and other spaces within the Center can perhaps somehow balance all the needs we have for a student space, while opening up the potential of UpC once more for events.by organizations and other on-campus groups.

This discussion regarding the student space is far from over, and will likely go on for years as a temporary and permanent space are found. What matters in this process is how far we go to accommodate student’s needs in  the immediate future and the long term. An immediate solution may involve a relocation that is as equally accommodating  and accessible as UpC is now, while the long term may go as far as to require renovations of the College Center, Students Building, or other facilities to truly offer what we want as a student space. Meeting all of these needs and desires is no easy task, and will likely take a serious effort and a fair amount of time even in an ideal scenario.

Hopefully we will see a space meet all the needs I’ve mentioned already, as well as one that is more centrally located to all students on campus. While it’s unrealistic to ask for something perfect, I think we can make a lot of improvement over the spaces we have already in this process, and I sincerely hope all parties push for some progress in the coming years over this, rather than no progress at all. The worst thing we can do is simply hesitate, and think a solution will magically appear. It’s up to us to build the student space that we want to have on campus, and that will be accomplished through collaborations of students and administrators alike to get the most out of our future spaces.

 

—Joshua Sherman ‘16 is an English major. He is Opinions Editor of The Miscellany News.

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