With the West-Edens Link residents settling in and the new dorm's McClendon Tower becoming a hub of student activity, residential planners are considering how to fill the tower's upper floors. These planners are faced with the exciting challenge of making the WEL's currently open spaces into permanent, student-oriented spaces that make McClendon tower a center of student life at Duke.
Although administrators have long-mused about what types of spaces would fit with their vision for the tower, the first formal, public discussion took place at last week's Campus Council meeting. This discussion proposed that the tower include a game room, pool tables and also a bar.
Obviously this plan cannot be immediately executed and administrators must still carefully review the Campus Council proposal, but on the surface, these ideas seem like excellent choices with which to fill the tower. The game room and pool tables are probably relatively non-controversial additions--nobody can really object to adding these types of places where students can socialize.
However, the suggestion that a bar should be added to the tower is sure to raise some opposition among administrators and even some students. Ultimately, though, the benefits of having an on-campus bar greatly out-weigh any negatives.
Since the demise of the Hideaway, students have lacked a place on campus where they can gather to socialize and share a few drinks with their friends. Although the new bar will surely be more upscale than the Hideaway, the general idea behind it is still the same, that it should be an open space where students can mingle and hang-out without having to abandon campus for Durham. In terms of building community among students, the bar is wonderful idea.
It will also vastly improve student safety. Currently, the lack of a bar on campus drives students to bars in Durham, which means that there will be more drunk drivers returning home from these bars. Adding a Hideaway-like location to the tower will help reduce this danger.
The most important thing is that the McClendon Tower become a space where students can gather together and socialize, be it in a game room or in a bar. Campus Council has taken a significant step forward with its resolution, so it is now up to he administration to listen to students and make progress in developing the tower into the beacon of student life it has the potential to be.