Thursday night, the Activity Resource Center bussed students to The Arena, an activity center in Pittsfield.
The Arena offers a variety of amusements, including a six hole miniature golf course, a batting cage, a roller rink complete with both jumps and ramps, a half-pipe, video games and laser tag. The planner of the night’s activities is Yolanda Rucker.
As the main organizer for the ARC since its initiation this fall, Rucker has organized two previous activities on campus: the hot tub party at Perry and the comedy game show earlier this fall.
It took two weeks to organize everything for what she calls this “road trip” for the ARC. This involved renting the arena while five Williams student members of the ARC Program Board planned the night.
Rucker applied for the two-year contract after seeing Dean Lee’s advertisement this summer. “Because this is all new they are going to evaluate the position for two years.”
The publicity effort appeared to be a success as word of the event reached students from all sectors of campus. “I would’ve liked more people to come,” said Rucker, but overall she was pleased with the diverse outcome, which included students from all groups on campus such as MinCo (Minority Coalition), Frosh Council, SAC and groups of friends which ensured that “all classes were represented.”
“This is like a big slice of Williams’ community,” noted Janet Iwasa’99. Even a Williams alum from the class of ’97 and a few professors spent the evening skating to popular tunes and dodging lasers. Since the event took place so far away and lasted a large portion of the night, Rucker intended for it to be “just something to do on a Thursday night” during Winter Study when classes are not held every day and the homework load is minimal.
Many students came with the same sentiment. “I don’t see this happening during the semester because people just don’t have time,” noted Iwasa. “I think it’s a good idea,” said Will Chang ’99. “Would I go to more events? I don’t know. Winter Study is kind of unique.” Several others agreed with Chang when he claimed that on-campus events such as SAC cinema are “the best thing by far.”
Overall, the night was seen, as Leigh Nisonson ’01 put it, “as a good change of pace for Williams.” Similarly, Xzabia Caliste ’98 felt that such activity “makes life a little more interesting; there is more to do.” Many welcomed it as a night away from the traditional night life that Williams offers during Winter Study.
Most felt the same as Nickie Saintelot ’01 who admitted that if she hadn’t come to Pittsfield, “I’d probably be in my room watching movies or at the snack bar.” Chang felt the choice to participate in such a planned event “totally depends on whether you are a drinker or not.” He too noted that his night would have entailed “watching Seinfeld and Friends and hanging out with friends.”
Others did not necessarily see the need for planned events, but appreciated The Arena itself: “This is a scene and a half,” asserted John Pak ’99, “I am beyond psyched to be here. Variety is the spice of life.” He also saw it as a “welcome change to the Williams party scene.” However, his friend Jodie Knight ’98 added, “We’ll see how he feels once he gets beat in laser tag.”
Michael Brown, ’99 felt similarly about the facility: “If I had known this was here I would’ve come on my own.” In commenting on the facility itself, Owen Cooney said “this kind of thing is fun.”
Brown saw the benefits of the night as more than just an introduction to what Pittsfield has to offer. “From what I see [the students of the Program Board] are going to be doing a lot [to] alleviate boredom on campus.” He felt that one of the motives behind ARC was to make Williams “a less alcohol dependent community.”
Phil Massery, the owner of The Arena, has seen first-hand the positive effects of providing quality entertainment for kids. With a D.A.R.E. banner hanging overhead, Massery admitted that they “try to keep the kids [from Pittsfield] safe” by providing healthy activities without drugs or alcohol. Massery expressed pride that he was able to contribute to such an environment. “This is the place to be on Friday night for Junior High,” he noted proudly.
Since buying it in 1978, Massery has seen the building change from a bowling alley to a food warehouse to its current role as an activity center.