Goodrich Hall: student initiative takes form

After almost a year of construction, the new Goodrich Student Center is complete. The limestone chapel,which was first converted to academic space, and later to an art gallery, now houses the college’s newest student resource. It should be a very popular hangout for students of all residences and years. Its rooms range from the Great Hall with its lofty ceiling and antique hardwood floor, to the Student Activities Resource Center with facilities available for student group use, to the Dormer lounge with comfortable space for relaxation and conversation. The building offers the students a unique combination of resources in a single building. “It’s not Baxter; it’s not the Snack bar. It’s not like Chapin. It’s not like anything we’ve ever had on campus before,” Goodrich Hall Manager Ryan Mayhew ’01, declared enthusiastically. With such variety Goodrich has already made a considerable impact on the lives of students at Williams.

The idea for turning Goodrich itself into a new Student Center came in January of 1995 when the Committee on Student Space submitted its final report, after nearly eight months of research. A Student planning board was created in the fall of 1996 to consult on the design of the facility. The board toured many other Student Centers, including those at Amherst and Mount Holyoke, for ideas and for indications of how important student input could be. The student voice had considerable influence in virtually all phases of planning from hiring the architect to choosing the furniture for the various rooms and the facility is entirely student run. Students decide how to use the space in the building and funds for these activities are provided by the College Council, whose new offices are in Goodrich.

Inside, the spaces are varied in form and function and each room is multi-purpose and serves student needs well. The Great Hall can hold either the coffee shop or a concert. There are six Ethernet terminals in the Great Hall itself, four on the floor and two in the balcony. There are also Ethernet jacks which allow students with laptops to log onto the network at many of the tables.

Not only is the building completely wired but it also provides a variety of snacking and coffee options. The Great Hall’s coffee bar with its “gourmet coffees and specialty desserts” is actually a self-supporting business. The coffee bar should open this Thursday, the 24th. The hours are set, tentatively, from 8 a.m. to noon, and 8 p.m. to midnight. These hours may change, depending on the availability of student-workers and the demand for coffee at different times. The coffee bar was designed to complement the snack bar at Baxter and not compete with it. “They overlap where they need to but other than that they serve completely different fare,” said Mayhew, Goodrich Hall Manager.

The most useful space inside the building, aside from the Great Hall itself, is the Student Activities Resource Center. The student resource room will be used by many student groups to plan events and multiple groups will be able to coordinate their efforts there. “The best part of the resource center is that it can be used to bring student groups together” commented Mayhew. The room itself used to be a library and then the Alumni Center. The blackboards are actually the original slates used in the room. The class of ’73 donated $500,000 to renovate the resource center. Space in the resource room can be reserved electronically, via a form at the following website: Error! Bookmark not defined.. Student groups will be able to access the room via keypad, rent lockers and use the space for meetings or offices. Two powerful Macintosh computers, laser printers, copy machines, long distance service and even a scanner and fax machine make this the ideal spot for any campus group to meet. Over thirty student groups have requested space in the resource room.

The Dormer Lounge sits off the balcony and offers a scenic view through a ten-foot gothic window. The window was originally in stained glass and was a memorial to President Garfield. Along with the rest of the section, the window disappeared in the latter half of the 19th century. The section was re-built as part of the renovation and now holds arm chairs and couches for almost 20 people.

One of the least mentioned but most useful additions to the building itself is the Link, which will be completed soon. Housing vending machines and e-mail terminals, the addition links the new student center to Lasell Gym. The link will allow such programs as midnight basketball to go on, as access can be restricted to the link. It allows athletes to grab a bite to eat or relax by merely walking up two flights of stairs. In addition to coffee, tea and hot chocolate, the coffee bar will sell sports drinks to meet the diverse preferences of the student body.

Bringing an old tradition back to the college is The Class of 1998 Bell which has long been silent until recently. The bell was originally a gift in 1857 from Pierpont Isham, an honorary member of the Society of Alumni. Traditionally it was rung out to signal victories over Amherst. The class of 1998 contributed funds for the refurbishment of the bell and it will soon be tradition again for the sports teams to ring the bell not only after defeating Amherst, but also following other important sporting victories.

Student reaction to the building has been universally positive. “I think it’s a great location for students to gather and hang out,” said Liz Dubinsky ’02. “Being a JA, I recognize the value of a place like Goodrich which will really bring the different classes together,” said Aya Reiss ’00. “The only complaint that I’ve heard is that the pictures don’t have dates on them,” said Mayhew. He refers to the antique photographs mounted on the walls throughout Goodrich. They range from old class photos to pictures of the building long before the renovation.

Dean Peter Murphy expressed his pleasure with the success of the project, stating, “for those of us who worked on the building the positive responses we have gotten are really wonderfully gratifying, and we are very proud to have returned this beautiful building to the campus. It was a delightful project to work on because the payoff is so simple and so positive.”