Students air must-haves for new campus center


Lou Foglia

Hanna Hanson, a senior design major expressed her desires for the recently announced Student Center during the Student Government Association’s open forum on Nov. 17.

By Campus Reporter

Students envisioned giant ball pits, bowling alleys and a basketball court as part of the recently announced student center during the Student Government Association’s open forum held Nov. 17. 

The forum, titled “Build Your Student Center,” offered students a chance to share with Chicago-based architecture firm Solomon Cordwell Buenz what qualities  and facilities they want to see in the student center, which is scheduled to be completed by the Fall 2018 Semester.

“It is important [the center] is highly reprogrammable so it doesn’t privilege any particular form of greater practice or intellectual endeavor,” said President and CEO Kwang-Wu Kim. “It has to be a place that helps us keep building the culture of inclusion that is so defining of Columbia.”

Most students at the forum requested that the center be designed to support open collaboration, provide efficient technology options with open labs, offer healthy and inexpensive food and drink choices, contain recreational facilities and speak to Columbia’s various personalities.

“There has always been a need for a student center on campus,” said Jerel Ballard, a junior journalism major and SGA president. “It means a lot because all of the students who commute—which is  a majority of our students—[will soon] have a centralized location they can collaborate, eat [and] spend time in.”

The center was approved Oct. 28 by the board of trustees and will rise from 26,000 plus square feet of ground-level space where the Papermaker’s Garden and the adjoining parking lot are currently located at 8th Street and Wabash Avenue, as reported Nov. 16 by The Chronicle.

Amanda Hamrick, a sophomore interactive arts & media major and executive vice president of SGA, said she would like the center to include a graffiti room similar to the one located in Dwight Lofts, 642 S. Clark St. She also said a rooftop garden would provide students with a space to work and hold student

organization gatherings.

Hamrick also suggested the center be used as a space for current students and alumni to showcase their work.

Shay Maor, a junior creative writing major and interfaith coordinator for Hillel, Columbia’s Jewish student organization, said the center should offer spaces for religious organizations to meet. Maor said Hillel currently meets at Panera Bread because there is no designated space for the group to meet on campus.

“We are a Columbia group, [but] it just feels like we are a group of people meeting from wherever,” they said. “[With the new center], people will feel like they have a safe space to practice their religion so we can include everyone and be diverse.”

Hanna Hanson, a senior design major, said she hopes the center will enable collaboration among students across various majors.

“[Creating open spaces] is how you can break down those barriers [between majors],” Hanson said. “The student body would benefit from it immensely.”

Other students mentioned the need for vibrant colors, large windows throughout the center, free printing, and a universal equipment and technology cage, as well as lockers and showers.

Kim said creating a student center has long been a dream of his, adding it will become a physical manifestation of the college’s commitment to student success and student well-being.

“Columbia never stops moving,” said Luther Hughes, a senior creative writing major and SGA vice president of Finance. “We are always ambitious, always going, always driving toward our dreams. I think Columbia is described as someone who never stops. They love what they are doing, and they will never stop doing what they love.”