Warren Wilson College lacks a suitable space in which students can congregate. Most colleges are outfitted with some center which features various services for students throughout the day: food, activities, rest and a place where students can commune between classes and work.
Certainly, Warren Wilson has spaces where students do congregate, but none of these are centralized. The college currently has an infrastructural situation in which there are numerous spaces throughout campus where certain groups of people gather, not the student body in general. Spaces such as lower Gladfelter (the ping-pong table), the smoking huts and certain “group specific” areas. The fact that there are numerous informal gathering spaces on campus is disjointing and motivates clique-oriented communities.
To ensure that the student population does not continue to divide itself into innumerable cliques, it is in the college’s interest to focus very hard on developing one central meeting space that can host the majority of students on campus and provide services to them all day.
College President Sandy Pfieffer has mentioned before that, as part of the Strategic Plan, the establishment of a formidable student center will be made a top, if not the primary, priority. This is very reassuring and certainly a right course for the college to be on. Although, a new student center will not be available to students who could take advantage of its services now. There are possible steps for the college to take which would give students important services and a suitable space in which to congregate in the interim.
The college should assist Sage Café in expanding across campus. Sage Café could establish food kiosks throughout central campus which could offer various baked goods, sandwiches and other food during the interlude between mealtimes. This would provide more options for students than the insubstantial snacks and beverages at the Campus Store – a site which is severely lacking in services to students anyway.
Establishing a news stand or media center would offer students access to scenes from the world beyond the college. This area could incorporate a 24-hour news feed on television and offer a selection of magazines, newspapers and similar publications which might interest students. Although some of these services are already available at the college library, the intention is to eventually centralize services like these so students can go to one place and find everything they need.
Relating Warren Wilson to other, wealthier institutions would be a little inappropriate in this circumstance. But it is helpful to our institution to possibly borrow and take the lead from more well established colleges and universities. For instance, UNC-Asheville has a “game room” in their Student Center which offers pool, darts, ping-pong and other similar activities. Warren Wilson has a few of these activities but, as stated before, they are separated and in random areas on campus discouraging any communal space for the campus at large to use. Other services which Warren Wilson could scale down to something more economically manageable could include a stage on which student bands could perform, meeting/conference rooms in which people could study, offices for student organizations/work crews and computer space supplementing the library and Bannerman.
The campus could also benefit aesthetically from a central community space. Any student center, or similar space, could be staffed by a regular work crew similar to any other service on campus. This would motivate maintenance of the area and would reinforce respect of the community space.
Warren Wilson expresses a feeling of community and it is important for this to be seen in every way on campus. A well established student center would reinforce this community and motivate students to commune collectively and not in disparate, disjointed groups.