Still waiting on Student Center…

By SpencerRoush

Columbia isn’t like any other four-year institution. It doesn’t have a mascot, identifiable school colors or a plethora of sorority and fraternity houses whose members throw totally awesome weekly foam parties like every other Greek system at a typical college campus.

While some students are wading waist-deep in foam drinking a 40 ounce beer in some frat house basement, Columbia students are most likely drinking beer at a local dive bar, discussing how much they appreciate not being involved in state-school-like antics.

Even though Columbia students probably chose this college because they aren’t given a pair of school spirit pom-poms along with their dorm keys, state schools do have something Columbia could imitate for improvement on our campus: a

central student building.

The administration has been talking about introducing a main student building for years without it ever coming to fruition because they don’t want to spend tuition dollars on its purchase. Instead, the college is spending money to expand in other ways, including the $21 million Media Production Center with its state-of-the-art technology and the most recent addition to campus, the Johnson Publishing Company building, bought for an undisclosed amount.

This newly purchased building and the MPC are useful additions to our campus, but to ensure the cross-collaboration between departments Columbia consistently tries to enforce through classes and programs, a main student building is necessary for this to happen.

The center also needs to be an area that isn’t intended for a specific department, but for everyone.

Having small student spaces tucked away on various buildings’ floors with a few couches, chairs and community computers, which is what is offered now, isn’t going to create a cohesive, collaborative student body. Instead, there needs to be a department-neutral space for students to come together.

Other colleges may have multiple buildings for all students to feel comfortable and network across majors. The addition of a student center would also make Columbia a more attractive option for potential students because it slightly mimics other campuses and offers a sense of community.

It’s easy to feel part of the department in your area of study, but when class is over and students spill into city streets, feeling like a number is nearly inevitable.

Columbia is not confined like other campuses—which offers many opportunities other colleges don’t have—but a sense of community across the campus is needed. A main student center would allow students to collaborate and meet people more easily, which is a relevant gripe many students have.

It’s admirable Columbia doesn’t want to spend tuition dollars on this student center, but the next building purchase should have a floor plan with this idea in mind. Just because we are art students who would rather attend a show than yell “rah rah” at a Saturday night football game doesn’t mean our campus can’t benefit from being more encompassing like those state schools we all strayed from.