Discussing a topic that had not been brought up in earnest for almost two years, Director of Housing Craig Southern spoke before Senate last Thursday on the state of Wallace Lounge and what might be done to make it a usable space again. Students who wanted the space to continue its previous life as a study space were in the minority.
Since a significant drop in the endowment after the recent stock market crash, many capital projects have been put on hold, including Wallace.
“My concern is that it has been almost two years since we’ve had input,” Southern said. “We asked students over spring break, RAs, and Campus Life talked to lots of club presidents. The biggest cohort we have not talked to is Senate.”
The office of Campus Life used a variety of methods to contact various groups of students over the preceding weeks, contacting around 310 in total. The survey focused on four major questions for the future of Wallace.
“We asked three or four questions,” Southern said. “What is the most important use of the space? Studying, hanging out, eating? Around 33 percent of students to whom we talked were interested in a club or “pub” area. This would include pool tables, dart boards etc. Of this group there was a 50/50 split as to whether alcohol should be available. Should there be additional food offered? Most felt vending machines would be good or the Gizmo should be open later. Most students say it should be open 24/7. If there is a game area open 24 hours it should be monitored to make sure no damage is inflicted. Most students just want a space to hang out. Surprisingly, at least from my perspective, only about 10 percent of the students we talked to felt Wallace should be a 24-hour study space.”
Other parts of the survey focused on how the space would be used.
“What would the ideal hours of operation be for Wallace Lounge?” Southern said. “The vast majority of the students present [over 75 percent] said that there is no place to go on campus after 1 a.m. or so, meaning that Wallace would be quite a popular destination. If a food area was included, most of the students were adamant that the food area should be closed off late at night and the multi-purpose area be open 24/7.”
The final question of the survey focused on the possibility of a games room, such as was present in Wallace’s previous incarnations.
“A resounding yes [to this question], but only if the ‘other side’ of Wallace was used as a multi-purpose area,” Southern said. “In addition to the pool and ping pong tables, students wanted a video game system, air hockey, darts, small tables for cards and/or board games and the like. Most said there would not be another space like it on campus. The only drawbacks would be, again, overcrowding and the concern of damages to the area late night. Other themes to answers included the need for Seymour to try to be more like a ‘real’ student union. I’m assuming that means more meeting areas and amenities that other student unions have at other ACM and area colleges. Others say that having a space like this could help keep noise and conflicts down in the residence halls.”
Having been excited over proposed improvements in the past, students expressed concern and skepticism at the prospect of action taking place in Wallace this time around.
“Finally, there was certainly a current of student disappointment that this project had not been undertaken by the college already,” Southern said. “I heard many, many comments related to the student not really believing the college has any intention of ever renovating Wallace. ‘It’s just a new Alumni Hall’ was a common comment I heard. Although we continued to be upbeat and excited about this possible renovation, most students seem to just be silently waiting to see if the college will proceed with the renovation.”
A lively discussion after the presentation focused mainly on the issue of alcohol being served in the lounge. While many senators seemed to support the prospect, some voiced concerns about its true appeal.
Next, Senator Sam Claypool presented an amendment to the Senate bylaws to combine the Records and Communication Chair.
The chamber entertained significant debate over this item, requesting and receiving clarification of how the caps would be used and why these changes were necessary at all. The resolution eventually passed, to applause from the chamber.
Senator Kopec also reminded the chamber that club funding requests for the coming year were due the following Monday.
Senate approved three additional fund requests: $250 to Quiver for a speaker, $2168 to Kares for Earth Week, and $140 to Pre-Law club for practice LSAT tests.
After fund approvals this week, the Student Senate Discretionary Fund had about $18,500 remaining for the year.
Student Senate sessions are held every Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Round Room of CFA.