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WEL media, game rooms open

 

Games, movies and television--an idle mind's paradise.

At Duke, however, students have had to wile away their hours in the relative seclusion of their rooms, commons rooms or the oft-deserted Bryan Center recreation rooms.

Until now.

 

The second and third floors of McClendon Tower in the West-Edens Link opened last week boasting an array of amusements and diversions for students. A small theater with a 60-by-72-inch projection screen occupies the entire second floor, and the third floor is stocked with an assortment of parlor games like pool and air hockey. Altogether, the middle of the WEL is shaping up to be a central destination for those looking to blow off a little steam.

 

"We saw a need for some more hangout space on campus, and the third floor really satisfies that," said Campus Council President Anthony Vitarelli, whose organization passed a resolution last year requesting a game room and media room. "It's really laid back, there's seating in there, it's a very free-form space, people can come and go as they please."

 

Student groups will be able to reserve either room through the Office of Student Activities, said Eddie Hull, residential life and housing services director. Possible uses for the media room include film screenings, speakers who use visual media in their presentations and Super Bowl and Oscar parties, as well as casual watching of cable television, videos and DVDs.

 

The new rooms, if successful, will dramatically change the landscape of student activities on West Campus.

 

"When you have Rick's downstairs and the coffeehouse upstairs, this is really a gathering spot," Vitarelli said. "The Bryan Center is really out of the way of the residential area on campus, [and] the rec rooms at the BC are too small and not prominently located."

 

Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta said he was unworried about a popular McClendon Tower detracting from the upcoming West Campus student village, which is now in planning stages and is still several years from completion.

 

"With 12,000 students at Duke we need all the space we can get for student recreation," Moneta wrote in an e-mail. "The WEL facilities will supplement the village."

 

Hull said the McClendon Tower facilities are intended to serve as a satellite to a "typical student union," referring to the collection of eateries, offices and social space in and around the Bryan Center.

The fifth floor of the tower is currently vacant, with Hull designating it as group meeting space for the foreseeable future. He said Campus Council sought to turn the area into a "cabaret-like space," but that other places could meet that need.

 

Vitarelli denied this and said Campus Council was sticking to last year's resolution recommending a sports bar on the fifth floor. He said he deplores how the space is currently being used, saying that its panoramic views and central location make it prime real estate for student activities.

 

"I think it's a shame," he said. "It is just inadequately used right now... because the space has so much potential and is, in my opinion, the most underused space on campus right now. There are so many meeting rooms on campus; the fifth floor of the WEL tower should not serve that purpose."

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