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Devil's Den begins offering free usage

Central Campus' Devil's Den has entered its newest incarnation--as a multipurpose center run by Student Affairs.

The Oregon Street building, formerly managed by Auxiliary Services, will now be available for free use by students and other groups through the Event Advising Center, although it is uncertain whether the venue has begun attracting more groups. Previously, using the building cost $375 per event.

"[The change in management] sends a message that [it] is primarily for students," said Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs.

Moneta compared his vision for the new Devil's Den to the role of the Bryan Center or West Union Building on West Campus. He emphasized that he wants to make sure anyone is able to "drop in" during the day. Although the football and lacrosse teams still hold their training table meals there, the location can be reserved by other groups. Student groups will have priority, Moneta said.

"The space will be heavily in demand on weekends," predicted Rick Gardner, senior coordinator at the Event Advising Center.

Joe Pietrantoni, associate vice president for auxiliary services, said his division left only two pool tables in the building, but that the full commercial kitchen accompanying the space will still be available through Auxiliary Services. That division will handle the Den's on-site cooking in order to preserve the University's A-rated health code for anything less than casual refreshments.

"If you want tea and crumpets [at your event,] fine," Pietrantoni said. "You can bring those yourself."

Gardner said Student Affairs will pay this year for setup and cleaning fees, which in part contributed to the space's high fee last year. Catering will cost extra, and groups will need to pay a refundable $150 damage deposit. Users must follow the same University alcohol policy as at other campus social areas.

Several groups have already signed up to use the space, many of whom rented the Devil's Den last year. Zeta Phi Beta sorority held a dance party there last Saturday night, and Gardner said that both Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity and Central Campus Council plan on holding events there in the future.

Senior Cyril Broderick, Kappa Alpha Psi president, said his fraternity liked the Den because it was separate from residential areas. "You don't have to worry about making too much noise. It's a neat little place," he said, noting that although the group has held events at the Devil's Den before, the lower cost will encourage them to use it more. "Our only request is that they could add a water fountain," he added.

Graduate and Professional Student Council leaders said they will also continue to hold events there, such as hosting a dance or televising a basketball game.

"A lot of people can do different things at the same time and still feel like part of the same event," said Tobin Freid, GPSC student life committee co-chair. "There's not any other space large enough on campus."

The remote locale, however, remains a drawback for some users. "One of the only disadvantages is location," Freid added. "There's not a lot of parking, but that hasn't deterred people from coming."

Sophomore David Johnson, a Kappa Alpha Order fraternity social leader, said it is much easier to transport people to events near East Campus or on West Campus. Broderick said Kappa Alpha Psi faced some of the same problems, but was still able to attract a large turnout by organizing rides beforehand.

The building is well off the East-West-Central bus line, a problem that Pietrantoni said the school tried to address years ago. "We kept hearing, 'Location, location, location,'" he said. He added that directing the bus route closer to the building and adding street lights nearby did nothing to increase attendance.

The Devil's Den returned last year to its original use after more than ten years of failed attempts at creating a popular bar or restaurant there. Built during the first enhancement of Central Campus 30 years ago, it was designated as only the "Multipurpose Building" for many years. During the 1980s, a small group of students helped start a bar and restaurant called "Kudzu" in the space. After they graduated, creating the Devil's Den became current Director of Dining Services Jim Wulforst's first major project.

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