Breaking the Logjam

Rooms decorated with College memorabilia, walls covered in Berkshire-themed murals, rich wooden seating and an inviting, smoky atmosphere may seem like the perfect recipe for a student hangout, yet the Log, undeniably one of Williams’ finest social venues, remains sadly vacant for the majority of the year. This was not always the case, however. Indeed, in the ’70s and early ’80s the Log was widely considered one of the social hotspots on campus. Unfortunately, noise complaints and the increased legal drinking age made Log events more problematic and eventually the site fell out of favor with students. These problems are not insurmountable, however, and with student initiative and administrative assistance, we may be able to reclaim one of the College’s most treasured buildings.

To return the Log to its former glory, we suggest reopening it as it used to function: as a pub. Utilizing the cozy atmosphere and the ideal bar layout, the Log could be effectively transformed into a thriving student hub once again.

It’s frustrating to see one of the nicest social venues go unused, when it doesn’t necessarily have to. If the Log were to be revitalized as a pub it would become a casual alternative to the lively, themed campus party, a convenient default for students looking for a destination outside the dorm. It would be a welcome change to the pace of late-night social life on campus, and provide constant filler in the social schedule. In the middle of a campus that takes pleasure in frequently reinventing itself, the Log would be a constant, an indicator of our heritage and history. Unlike buildings that have been knocked down in pursuit of newness, the Log doesn’t need an update; it needs a constituency and care.

This would not just be another Herring with pretty walls. To effectively run the Log as a pub, serious student investment would be required. First we would need to bring back the role of student administrator. Using the Goodrich Coffee Bar as a model, the student administrator would coordinate with other students to staff the facility and stock the bar. Then we would need the student workers to get their friends on board and bring in other students to make the Log a true hub.

But student initiative matters little if College administrators and staff members are unwilling to get behind the project. By reaching out to members of Dining Services, students could employ professional oversight in the acquisition and distribution of alcohol. Furthermore, students would need the aid of Security to help prevent underage drinking, as well as Facilities to provide for the building’s maintenance. Of course, all this would require money, but profits from the running of a successful bar would theoretically offset its operational costs.

Available funding is not the only, nor the most serious issue, however. In reopening the Log as a pub we must be mindful of what has plagued the establishment in the past: noise complaints. Situated within a residential area, noise emanating from the Log has drawn complaints from nearby residents, and it will again if we are not mindful of the specific events held and the duration of those events.

This is why the Log will function most effectively as a pub. Indeed the Herring and the old Purple Pub indicate that noise from bars is not unmanageable for local residents. And although the Herring noise levels benefit from it being in a basement, the Purple Pub was practically as exposed as the Log and ran for years as a successful and often overcrowded venue. As long as large parties and concerts were scheduled in other campus venues, the Log could serve students’ needs while not encroaching on neighbors’ sleep.

We should also keep in mind that when the Log drew its largest crowds, the legal drinking age was 18. Thus, with only upperclassman able to use the Log during its nighttime bar hours, there would be fewer students to generate objectionable noise. Yet while noise levels would be reduced, the space would undoubtedly be well-used. Even before the old Pub burned down, both bars were often busy. Experience suggests that were the Log to open as a bar, its rooms would not be empty, especially considering the aesthetic advantages it enjoys over the Herring.

Some students point to the ’82 Grill as a lost opportunity in recreating this campus pub environment. But the Grill was never intended as the kind of social drinking hotspot that the Log used to be. In fact, as a pizzeria, the Grill succeeds in providing good food and an accommodating, if not especially warm or bustling meeting space. Sure, it could use a homier atmosphere and some Williams-inspired décor. But if we really want a lively campus pub, students must turn their efforts to the underused Log.

With a sincere commitment on the part of students and an understanding of potential noise issues, history can indeed repeat itself in one of the College’s most historic buildings. By making use of the Log as a pub with the help of various College services we can enliven a building that once served as the hallmark of student social life. The Log has seen too much dust settle on its premises. Let’s not allow one of our most treasured buildings to become a relic.

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