The College of William and Mary’s Auxiliary Services Feb. 4 email was a good step and the right step. Although it graced the bottom of the missive — located just above a much-ignored parking advisory for the next home Tribe basketball game — the “Poll Zone” offered one of the first outlets through which students could vote on the future ambiance of a recently renovated College facility.
Now, many may say that choosing whether to have silence, music, TVs, muted TVs or both music and muted TVs in Lodge 1 is an insignificant decision. However, this poll marked the first time in recent memory that students were given agency and the means to make a decision about the atmosphere of a campus location. The weight of this survey is not important; what matters is the decision-making power that the poll provided. For once, I could democratically exercise my right as a student to decide whether I wanted to return to the footfall-filled Lodge 1 of old or expand the silenced, unwatched televisions of the pool-table area. (Obviously I selected a new feel and went with the music, no TVs, option. It was winning by 62 percent when I last checked.)
But this newfound decision-making ability should not end here. Has anyone else noticed that the campus is becoming more and more static, cold and uninviting? For example, while I would not have chosen the photo-collage-filled walls of the old Marketplace, they were much better than the silent, white hospital walls of the renovated dining option. It’s not that I don’t like art — I’ve often found myself admiring the President’s Collection in Blow Hall — but why must the Marketplace become a sadder extension of the Muscarelle? Have you ever eaten in a museum? If you have, it was probably in a food court, removed from the galleries and placed in a fountain- or sculpture-filled space. I’m not saying that Auxiliary Services should add a fountain to the Marketplace, but could we at least see an accent wall or two?
Accent walls, accent walls — why do those ring a bell? Because two years ago when Earl Gregg Swem Library revamped Mews to install Greenberry’s Coffee Company (which is now Swem Aromas) and add the plush-chaired study room, they also added three accent colors throughout the library. While current freshmen and sophomores do not know Swem’s old look, they should be informed that the addition of “Independent Green,” “Gingery” and “Soulful Blue” — alongside the new ottomans — extended my usual stay in Swem by a few hours. To top it off, these changes were the result of a survey of students the spring before.
Auxiliary Services should learn something from Swem’s renovation. While I cannot speak for all students at the College, a poll or survey of some kind can. You can argue that a survey isn’t always answered, but if ten students take the time to answer a few questions, those ten students are involved in the decision-making process. Let students decide how we want our campus to look. Let English majors tell you whether or not they preferred the basements of Tyler to the asylum feel of Tucker, with its awkwardly wide classrooms and intimidating debutante staircase. Let students tell you that they no longer want to sit on hallway floors in Blair and Morton — give us benches or chairs. Who knows whether students would rather sacrifice the spacious nature of Lodge 1 so that they can actually find a seat?
While the suggestions I list here are my own, they and the opinions of all students at the College, deserve to find a voice and an outlet through which they can reach the great decision-makers in Auxiliary Services.