Changes needed at Goodrich Student Center

While it would be ideal for Goodrich to be an entirely student-run operation, the realities of the rigorous academic demands on a Williams student make that ideal unattainable. As the recent resignation of the Goodrich Manager has illustrated, the responsibilities of directing such a large operation are too time-consuming for one student or even a group of students to handle. Managing Goodrich is a time-intensive position which requires significant daily attention that a Williams student cannot possibly afford to spare.

The Goodrich manager’s responsibilities are immense. They include overseeing the coffee bar and coffee bar staff and creating a viable staffing schedule, working with student groups who are planning Goodrich events, working with Buildings and Grounds to schedule maintenance, repairs and support for events, and handling requests from College Council, the Housing Committee, SAC, faculty and administrators.

The current Goodrich situation is unfortunate, especially considering the significant amount of planning and resources that have already been devoted to it. The total costs of the Goodrich renovation are approaching $3 million and many loyal alumni have generously contributed large sums of money to see the project to its completion. All of the people who have invested time and money in the building and its remarkable transformation deserve more than they are currently getting, as do the students for whom the building was created. Additionally, the Dean’s Office and College Council have far more pressing issues than overseeing one of two student centers on campus.

Goodrich should be a student-led organization, with full-time administrative support. We believe that hiring a full-time staff member to serve as an anchor for the Goodrich organization would allow Goodrich to stay true to its mission of being student-run while providing the daily organizational support Goodrich needs to operate smoothly. The staff anchor would be able to handle the time-consuming daily tasks, thereby freeing the student manager and the Goodrich Committee to expand and enhance the facility and provide long-term planning and direction while still providing the student-run feel.

The Williams Outing Club has already demonstrated the success of a student-run organization with a staff anchor. Assistant Professor of Physical Education Scott Lewis keeps the club running on a daily basis and gives the club a sense of continuity over time. The student members of the outing club board are directly involved in the direction of the outing club and its operation, but they are not burdened with the full responsibilty of running every aspect of the club. Under this organizational structure, the WOC has grown into the largest organization on campus and is an integral part of the Williams experience. Goodrich could benefit from a similar arrangement.

Further, the coffee bar should be run by Dining Services instead of students. The logistics of running a coffee bar should be left to talented professionals who have the time and knowledge to do a good job and who are willing to work late hours. There are already many campus jobs, and short student staffing has plagued the coffee bar since it opened two weeks behind schedule. Ridding the Goodrich student manager and Goodrich Committee of coffee bar responsibilities would allow the students to focus on event planning and utilization of the Goodrich facilities, which is what the primary focus of a student center should be.

The goal of a completely run student center is an admirable one, but the student managers must be students first and managers second. Goodrich is a valuable resource that deserves a full-time staff presence to ensure maximum facility utilization. The staff at Williams is talented, motivated and could significantly improve the overall quality of Goodrich working in cooperation with a student led organization. Students would be able to take an active role in overseeing a facility that better serves the needs of the entire Williams community.