Club Conversations: Falstaff's Operating Committee

Posted by Julia Leef

Falstaff's Operating Committee

Noah Samors and Kyle Salzman: Co-Chairs of Falstaff's Operating Committee

Could you guys briefly explain, in general, what the Falstaff's Operating Committee is?

Kyle Salzman: So, Falstaff's Operating Committee is the committee that was set up several years ago to operate Falstaff's after the dissolution of the Pavilion corporation, which was a contracted out extra-Skidmore corporation that operated Falstaff's when it was a bar, which dissolved when they changed the drinking age. The FOC ran for a while and then a few years ago, probably five or six, it became defunct. No one was sitting on the committee but it still existed, it still drew money from the student activity fund and accumulated a budget.

The two of us, through our work with Lively Lucy's [Salzman is a member of Lively Lucy's and Samors is the president] spent a lot of time in Falstaff's and wanted improvements for the space for our club's purposes and so we started investigating how to go about that. And through that and in talking with Robin Adams [associate director of Leadership Activities] we found out about the FOC, and we formed the committee and refilled the seats and started having meetings and figuring out what to do with the committee, what direction we wanted to take the space in, because it had been unstructured for such a long time.

So, essentially the committee's purposes as it stands right now, although we're still in the process of reforming how it functions, are to revamp the space physically, just because it has been deteriorating for so long, and a lot of that renovation we've already begun and have completed some of it. And then our second priority is to try and reinvigorate the way the space figures into every day student life. Having more events up there--

Noah Samors: A lot of variety as well.

Salzman: Yeah, and also being able to use it during the day and just have it be a space that's more integrated with campus life.

Samors: Falstaff's is the one student space on campus, because Case Center isn't really a student space. Students hang out here, but it's filled with faculty. Falstaff's is designated for student use, and we want to turn it into a student, not necessarily a bar, but just a student venue, a student club, a student area that people can hang out and do homework and all that, but that is a process that we're trying to figure out how to best move forward. Like we said, we are a newly re-formed club and because it's been so stagnant for so long we need to redefine what we do. And the next step is getting more student involvement in the project.

Looking ahead at your plans for turning Falstaff's into an area more fitting as a student venue, do you see any physical changes to the building as a possibility?

Samors: We've actually painted the interior. We've re-floored, we got new flung, we're getting new carpet and furniture pretty soon and we're getting a new sound system. We have a new countertop in the back to replace the old bar that takes up less space and is more functional as a serving space for the possibility of one day turning into a full bar, but we don't see that happening for a while.

So basically the way we're planning on doing that is working with clubs a lot more and helping them put on events. We're not entirely sure what our role will be with that, but we want to promote events. We're thinking about daytime coffee houses, maybe even an art showcase. We're very much open to suggestions of possibilities.

Salzman: Regarding physical renovations, we've already pretty much gone over what we've done so far. We've looked at a couple of other things for the future, although we've done so much already with the space that more physical renovations would be a long-term thing, but we're looking at doing a little bit of minor modification of the space to maybe shrink the kitchen a little bit and add more storage area for clubs that use the space regularly to keep equipment or supplies or anything like that. But you know, the way we see it, I think, and the place we've arrived at as a committee, too, is that the space didn't need a lot of work to become a more livable space for students. It just needed sort of a facelift, which is what we've gone and done.

Samors: We're hoping in the long-term that the space will continually change in some way, physically. That doesn't necessarily mean repainting it or remodeling the floor, but we're really hopeful that we can find practical art installations that students themselves have created and that can be put into the space to change it just a little bit, because it is a student space. We have Case Gallery, and that's like the one space you can show artwork. We're hoping that we can find a way to showcase student artwork as well in Falstaff's, but again that's a process that we need to further explore.

So who else besides you two is on the committee?

Salzman: It's the class secretaries, the Vice President of Club Affairs, one rep from Lively Lucy's, that's Noah, one rep from SEC, two Willingness-to-Serve people and the VP of Financial Affairs. And Robin Adams sits on the committee as well as an advisor.

Are there positions that you're looking to fill?

Salzman: Both of the Willingness-to-Serve positions are filled. One of them I fill and the other one is filled by Frasier Glenn '15, and the other positions are part of the duties of elected officials for other areas of SGA. And so there aren't really a lot of opportunities to get on the committee, which is something that we have struggled with a lot because a lot of the people who are on the committee don't have a lot of time to give to it because it's an additional duty that's tacked on to their other priorities. And so we'd like to get more people involved who want to be there for FOC, but we just haven't really figured out how to go about that yet, whether we start a subcommittee that draws from the student body on a volunteer or vote basis, or whether we just have more open forums for the student body to come in and discuss what they want with the space. So there aren't a lot of opportunities right now for people who are interested to get involved other than just talking to us.

Samors: Which is a very good way to get involved, I have to say. We love conversation about this space, and it's always good to hear from somebody else what they want. We've been working on this space for so long through Lively Lucy's because that's what we're involved in, so we do honestly have somewhat of a skewed vision for this place. We try to keep that on the back burner because we're very aware that we see it through our eyes and so we want more student involvement. And another good way for students to get involved is joining clubs. We're planning on having a club presidents meeting in Falstaff's in April at some time just to meet with all the clubs and talk about what they want with the space and how to make it work for them.

Can people email you or how would you recommend students get in touch with you?

Samors: We have a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Falstaffsoperatingcommittee), and that is probably the best way, just because multiple people have access to that as opposed to our personal emails. But for the time being I'm also not opposed to getting personal emails.

Salzman: Yeah I mean personal emails are definitely a good way for people to get in contact with us. I don't think it's feasible for that to be the way for us to connect to the community, just because there are too many people for that to work for us. If everyone is sending us emails that's a problem. But for the moment it's very okay to email either of us with questions or comments.

Do you foresee any challenges that you'll face, whether in the physical renovations themselves or in letting people know your plans for Falstaff's?

Samors: I think the biggest challenge is going to be redefining Falstaff's in the student mind, because whenever I talk to anyone about Falstaff's, all they can think about is that one time they were really drunk freshman year and they went and it was a time. They had a good time, maybe, maybe not, but it's not just that space. Lively Lucy's throws a lot of events, we throw events every Thursday, and so this is part of the struggle being on both clubs.

Just redefining the way people view the space is definitely going to be the hardest challenge because everyone comes in with this notion. But it looks entirely different, and so we're hoping that the remodeling will promote a different view on it. It doesn't look as grungy as it used to.

Do you foresee any difficulties in the location of the building? Buildings like Case Center have a more central location on campus. While Falstaff's isn't too far away, compared to Case Center it is far away from the dorms, for example.

Salzman: I think one of our big goals especially for the sort of daytime use of the space is to make it a very comfortable place to be. The thing about the dorms is that they're very nice, and when I was living in the dorms certainly I didn't have problems with it. But there's no really homey sort of hang out atmosphere in the dorms, and I've always found Case Center to be sort of sterile and not particularly the place I'd like to sit down and relax and spend a Sunday afternoon in. And I think if we achieve that the seven-minute walk is not going to be a big deal. That is another part of the perception of Falstaff's that we're trying to alter. It seems really far away but it's not actually that far away. It takes a few minutes to walk there. If it's worth it, the people will come.

You mentioned the presidents' meeting sometime in April. Are there any other upcoming events for either this semester or next semester?

Samors: Well Falstaff's is entirely booked the rest of the semester. So it's somewhat difficult to get online and find the schedule, but we're probably going to post the schedule on the Facebook page of all the different events that are going on in there. And so that's a good way for people to start seeing what the space can do, because there aren't all those grimy dances that the freshmen go to. There are plays going on there. Rochelle Calhoun [dean of Student Affairs] is directing, or producing, the bias incident report-inspired play. Those are the events that are already scheduled. We've talked about a few possibilities. One thing that we're trying to work for is Fun Day Sunday brunch. The Sunday after Fun Day, maybe one or two o'clock in the afternoon, we could serve food and drinks and have people come and eat and recover from the Fun Day weekend.

Salzman: In the short term we're going to try and have, in addition to the presidents' meeting, a community forum, just where we tell people what we've done so far and what our plans are for the space and try and get some feedback from the student body regarding how they see the space and how they want it to move forward.

And there are numerous concerts. I know it's booked pretty much all Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, but there's nothing really planned, I think, for any daytime slots for the rest of the semester. And the other nights of the week I doubt have many events planned. So we do have room to develop some other things to go on in the space.

Anything else you want to talk about?

Samors: There's a full kitchen. There aren't a lot of kitchen supplies, but there's a full kitchen. And I know there's a co-op, a group of kids who do a potluck, so maybe if they wanted to do a potluck in Falstaff's, they could see if the space was available one night. Students can go on there and reserve the space, I'm pretty sure. We just want students to use the space more. If anyone has any suggestions, please send us a message.

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