An extraordinary opportunity lies before us. This summer, the University bookstore will move downtown to a new location on Market Street. The move will open up 12,000 square feet for which the student body must act decisively to claim its sovereign right.
Among the University’s few structural weaknesses is its lack of a communal space of an academic nature where students can gather in small groups or form clubs to work collaboratively on new enterprises. This lack of gathering space fragments campus life unnecessarily, contributing detrimentally to gender interactions, which are left to dorm encounters and segregated social groupings in our sororities and fraternities. In a vacuum, the first floor of Bertrand Library substitutes as the most social place on campus-albeit mostly trivial chats en passant between book retrieval and morning coffee.
The design of our dining system, with its dispersion of students to their respective watering holes, severely limits cross-gender and interdisciplinary -collaboration-unless you include weekend social activities! Most respected universities offer dynamic, student-designed spaces for improvisation, to advance collegiate and intellectual interaction. Refitting the bookstore’s void would immediately become one of the University’s greatest assets. The University should rise to the challenge and create an environmentally-designed student club to nourish student ventures and to attract the brightest and most talented scholars of tomorrow.
The Elaine Langone Center renovations need to become the first priority of both the administration and the student body this spring. During the presidential search and transitional period, a university-led renovation of the space would signal a much-needed commitment to cultivate greater student cohesion on campus. While the attention of the trustees is focused-understandably-on long-term infrastructure projects, investment to improve this existing asset would see handsome returns. Let us focus the budget on utility-maximization, thereby leaving the University with a space that it has long desired.
I have a vision of returning to my alma mater, in the near future, to find a social laboratory of bright students sharing business plans, writing plays together, plotting off-campus service and performing music. I picture future Bucknellians plopped on some chairs, delving through Plato or Aristotle with their legs quietly folded on coffee tables. Others collaborate over puzzling economic problems. Walking deeper into the new student lounge, I notice first-years settling a dispute over their ping-pong talents, while sorority sisters try their hand at a game of shuffle board.
Deeper still, I discover a billiards table sitting idly in wait for patrons, and a small stage where aspiring poets and musicians supply the evening fare. In the back left corner, I see the BSG office-moved from its old, isolated locale on the ELC third floor-newly relocated with efficient placement, to properly operate as student headquarters. Yet, my exploration still finds this new territory’s greatest treasure: in the far back-where once I picked up new reads at the inception of every semester-I now see a row of five group-study rooms! Each one bears resemblance to Bertrand’s hotly-contested study rooms that faithfully provided me the environment from which I attacked my collegiate work. How lucky these students are to have a center to stimulate curiosities, foster imaginations, tackle course work and even challenge friendly adversaries!
Whether your vision aligns with mine, there must be no doubt: student apathy towards this opportunity will lead to a result far from favor. One cannot start a movement with ears deafened by iPods, so wake up! Voice your opinion!
-Davis Alexander Rosborough ’10