Posted by the Editorial Board
The student center should act as the flagship structure at the center of the college. Students should be able to come inside and see the embodiment of what they love about their campus: the creativity, the liveliness and true intellectual spirit. These qualities appear in Case Center, but only as posters pasted on brick walls and conversations occurring under fluorescent lights. The spirit of the college exists in our student center, but only in spite of the building itself.
So many aspects of Case Center have no place in a building intended to act as a social space for students. Classrooms just a few feet away from Burgess Café are ostensibly a part of Ladd Hall, but as anyone who has navigated between Palamountain and Bolton Halls can tell you, those kinds of distinctions are really just technicalities. All administrative offices in Case work closely with students, but their presence can muddle the purpose of a building that should chiefly represent genuine student direction and creativity.
In an ideal Case Center, these spaces would be replaced with facilities specifically geared toward student life. Administrators encourage students to express themselves creatively and to devote themselves to a passionate calling, but the campus's facilities limit students' ability to effectively plan and advertise what they accomplish. A student center should do that.
There should be private rooms to accommodate an overcrowded library and provide consistent meeting space for clubs. A box office separate from the SGA office should act as a one-stop location to find out more about the myriad artistic endeavors that students undertake every semester. Events will be far less likely to be overlooked if students interested in seeing a play or hearing a concert know they can find tickets all in one place, rather than hunting through three different buildings to find information about performances.
Case's Dining Services should be distinct from the offerings throughout the rest of campus. The Skidmore Shop's success in bringing selections of local businesses' menus to campus shows students' eagerness to enjoy their favorite Saratoga Springs restaurants in Case Center. While Dining Services considers having national chains come to campus, bringing in a Subway or a Dunkin Donuts would clash with the college's local and sustainable spirit. Students would be thrilled instead to find kiosks offering Uncommon Grounds, Legend's Café and Pope's Pizza right in their student center.
The Spa especially should be more than just linoleum and tile, and could truly become a performing space with a set stage and comfortable seating that invites students to come together. Rather than just serving alcohol at heavy-drinking events through the semester, the college should offer local beers and pub food at the Spa, allowing students of legal age to come to their student center to relax with classmates in the evenings. In so doing, the college would follow the example of many of its peer and aspirant schools – including nearby Vassar, Middlebury and Trinity colleges – who have on-campus pubs where students can enjoy a beer with friends after a hard day of classes.
These are the kinds of changes that would make Case Center a building that would truly accommodate and nurture the college's student life. A well-run Post Office, a wonderful Skidmore Shop and an accessible SGA Office already serve students' needs well. But what the college should do is think beyond the practical needs of the student body and think of what would make students proud of the building that should be emblematic of the college they attend.