March 2, 2011

Social Space: The Long Goodbye

It's long been a cause célèbre for Parkhurst to wrest social spaces from the monopolizing Greek community. When the prime option for students to socialize is a fraternity basement, the argument goes, we would expect higher incidents of drinking and related transgressions.

Curious, then, that the College is announcing the renovation of Thayer Dining Hall into a pay-per-meal venue, where students will have to cough up eight dollars just to enter. Reflecting back on my time in Hanover -- not so long ago! -- I recall many nights spent regaling with friends at Food Court while sipping a coffee and nothing more. Food Court was a safe, comfortable social space for those who wanted to temporarily escape the stress of final exams and term papers. Food Court was, in short, a reliable social space for students to join, relax and engage.

No more. By placing a steep price on entry, few students will care to join a group of friends on a whim. Ate an early dinner? Too bad. You're not likely to pay eight dollars to join your friends' later dinner just to spend time with them.

And what message does this send students, anyway? The all-you-can-eat style surely incentivizes overindulgence and waste. Not to mention the additional cost -- on top of what were already exorbitant DDS prices.

What a curious move, indeed. Why write the rules so that your $30 million investment hinders your stated efforts in other areas of College life?

One has to wonder how students will react to this. Or perhaps if the administration cares at all.

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