As move-in commenced on Sept. 3, I was surprised to see the many differences in the newly renovated Stewart and Odell buildings that would become my home for the next semester.
Impressed by the clean coats of paint, private toilets and shower stalls, the nice kitchens and pretty landscaping, I was excited to enjoy all that this new generation of Stewart had to offer.
After months of construction and many changes around campus, including a renovation of Fowler Student Center, I was shocked to find that Campus Living plans to open the Office of Students Rights and Responsibilities (SRR) in half of what was formerly the Odell common room.
The Odell common room in particular was one of the largest spaces where students could gather in all of the dorms. Last year, for example, I was invited to a wonderfully large Friendsgiving celebration in said space, where at least 15 students gathered, cooked and ate joyously.
With a massive kitchen, multiple seating areas, big tables and a sweet, homey atmosphere, I was incredibly disappointed to find that school offices have encroached upon a space specifically designated for students. Many steps of this renovation have earned my frustration.
First, Campus Living took over the space that was our beloved Maggie’s Cafe. The cafe was a favorite for students and visitors alike, the perfect place to get that extra meal after Fields Dining Hall closes, to study in the warm, welcoming environment, a cute spot for an on campus date and a place that provided students with jobs and comfort.
Now, Campus Living has been putting out emails asking students what they think should occupy that space instead of our adored cafe. Given how quickly they took it away, it is disappointing to see that there were not solid plans beforehand to take the most advantage of the space.
Not only has Maggie’s been closed down, but the mailroom is also quite inconveniently located.
When I first began at Lewis & Clark, the mailroom was on the middle floor of what is now Fowler and student mailboxes were accessible without speaking to a clerk. The centrality of the location was perfect, and with the new addition of elevators, it would be accessible to all students.
What I don’t understand is that if we can afford to do a massive renovation of both the student center and of the Stewart and Odell buildings, why was space not created for the offices that need it, such as SRR?
Why was it necessary to bring older, working adults into our dorms? We have shoe boxes of space that we share with one or two or three other students.
As grateful as I am to have the opportunity to make my space lovely and have wonderful friends who all live so close, I do not see the reasoning behind putting an office in what is essentially our living room, instead of in the brand new sparkling, shiny Fowler Center.
Where the mailroom once lived is now a massive game room that I have never once seen occupied and takes up probably 400 square feet of space that could be allotted for something more important than Connect Four.
I am so grateful for the academic rigor of LC. I feel that I am pushed in my classes every day, that the material is relevant and that my experience at this college is preparing me well for the real world. I want to be clear: The main reason that I am here is for the education and I have no issues with that.
My annoyance comes from the fact that LC is extremely expensive, even with financial aid and scholarships taken into account. I feel that many of these changes were implemented without consideration for the direct impact on students’ ability to live comfortably.
SRR is, without a doubt, an important group on campus and they should have an office that students can access easily. That space should not also be a dorm.
A dorm has one purpose: to house. Our dorms should serve to make students feel comfortable and to create a home away from home, a space where we can flex our muscles of independence and freedom.
The fact that SRR was confined to that space points to the lack of planning that this renovation has seemed to include.
The Stewart and Odell doors are constantly breaking so that our IDs won’t let us in, fire alarms go off in the middle of the night with no explanation and on one occasion students were expected to pack up and move all of our kitchen belongings so that a photography team could take photos of the finished space.
The livability does not seem like the highest priority and I am disappointed that the $8,000 spent on my accommodations is not put to better use.