Due to space requirements for the construction of the new Theatre and Dance Center. Admissions will move to Bascom House next summer. Bascom, currently a row house occupied mostly by seniors, will temporarily replace the current admissions building, Mather House, which will be moved to Stetson Court.
According to Cappy Hill ’76, provost of the College, the construction of the Theatre and Dance Center will begin next fall, with construction of a parking garage beginning in the spring. It will include the Adams Memorial Theatre (AMT) complex, but will extend to the north and east.
The construction will last about two years and the expansion of the AMT will result in a need to move the admissions office.
Beyond the imposition of the complex, however, admissions already needed a larger space. “Admissions has been tight on space for some time now,” said Eric Beattie, director of Facilities Planning and Construction. “Mather House was no longer meeting their needs very well, and the Theatre and Dance Center has provided the impetus to find a facility that will provide additional offices, as well as meeting spaces that will accommodate more people.”
He added that admissions would like the capacity to accommodate up to 75 prospective students and their parents.
“Mather is very homey, very quaint, but in some ways we’ve outgrown it,” said Dick Nesbitt, director of admissions. “Just because of numbers, particularly because of prospective students coming in the summertime, the waiting room is crammed with people every day in August.” In addition, “Bascom has much more storage space, a place for files, a place for support staff and the things that they do,” he said.
Bascom House, located on Stetson Court, was the former residence of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity and now houses 19 students. Renovations to the house will begin in mid-June.
Tom McEvoy, director of housing, noted the number of seniors living in the row house and said, “we will happily house them right through commencement.”
Both Hill and McEvoy reassured that the loss of these beds will not add to the current perception of a housing crunch on campus. McEvoy said, “There is not much of a crunch any longer. Fortunately, the study away numbers and the number of students living off campus, and smaller first-year classes are contributing to a fairly good situation in terms of open bed spaces.”
Hill noted the possibility of a problem if, as a result of recent world events, the number of students studying abroad greatly drops. “If this happens,” she said. “We will have to worry about a variety of things, including beds but also class sections. If this were to happen, we will find ways of dealing with it that do not compromise the quality of student housing or the classroom experience.”
McEvoy commented that “it is safe to say that the luxury of having a double room to yourself with no roommate is likely to end, so long as Bascom is off line.”
Bascom will house the admissions office for about five years. Hill said that during that time, decisions will be made as to whether Bascom might be a good permanent location for the admissions office. Weston, which currently houses the foreign language department, is a possibility, if the foreign language program could be moved to the remodeled Stetson/Sawyer complex. However, Hill added, “we have lots of time to make that decision, and Bascom may turn out to be the perfect location!”
Students currently residing in Bascom House, although not directly affected by its status as the new admissions office, have differing views on the decision. Asa Johnson ’02 described his current dorm as “one of the best houses on campus in one of the best locations,” away from the noise of Route 2, but near enough to the Greylock quad, row houses and class buildings for easy access. Johnson also mentioned the wood paneling, large rooms, two common rooms and convenient parking as other perks of living in the row house.
“Needless to say,” he said, “I am quite sad for the following classes since they will not be able to have such a plum.” Housemate Erin Graham ’02 added, “There must be a better option than taking away one of the premier non-co-op senior houses.”
Johnson suggested Brooks as a better location, saying that it “is already partly dominated by the conference center offices.”
The future of Mather House, once it has been moved to Stetson Court, is still undecided. Hill said she hopes “eventually it will become another residential house, in the faculty/staff rental pool.” She noted that the College is very short on rental housing for faculty and staff and the importance of housing will be amplified as a factor in recruitment with the increase in faculty.
Hill added “I’d like to see us keep [Stetson Court] as residential as possible. It is a nice little family neighborhood, connecting to another nice little neighborhood off South Street.”
The building may also be used as office space, which is also in short supply. Hill said.
“It may be that we use it as offices for a few years, or we may use it for housing from the start. It is too early to know for sure,” she said.