Building awareness

Despite their physical command over the center of campus, the North and South Academic Buildings opened with remarkably little ceremony. No one slept on the stoop in sub-freezing temperatures the night before their doors unlocked. There was no ribbon cutting, no carnival.

The quiet inauguration of the buildings says a remarkable amount about the student-faculty interactions that they are virtually designed to facilitate: We do not often pause to appreciate the exceptionality of these relationships.

There did not need to be an opening day to invite students to come check out the new professors’ digs, because the campus culture largely determines the fact that many will be seeing those digs often, all year long, for help on a problem set or choosing a major, for sharing mutual excitement about the fiction in this week’s New Yorker or a tête-à-tête about the elections.

Now that more humanities professors are centrally located in these buildings, students should make it a priority to knock on that door, ask that question, bring in that draft. This first completed leg of the Stetson-Sawyer project serves as a reminder to anyone who isn’t already taking full advantage of this most precious Williams resource: get close with your professors. There is no longer the Stetson labyrinth separating you from their offices.

Professors, too, should view their new cribs’ location as an opportunity to become further enmeshed in the college community. Paresky is officially a stone’s throw from both buildings, so faculty should use the proximity and go grab lunch there with students if they aren’t doing so already.

Along with integrating these new buildings into our daily routine, students can look forward to the revival of another dynamic space, Goodrich Hall. Juniors and seniors remember Goodrich’s squishy couches, intimacy and perpetual feeling of welcome. Sophomores and first-years know little more about the building than the legendary story of its demise during a Günther concert and its current sterile, hotel-lobby atmosphere. All students must do some reimagining for reinvigorating the newly reopened space, which could use the student traffic that will come with the Coffee Bar to break it back into its comfy-couch clamor of yore.

Especially in deciding how to divvy up events between Goodrich and Paresky – which only briefly coexisted as student community spaces – student events planners should focus on organizing more Goodrich-specific events. The lived-in lodge space was made for jazz lounges, small folk concerts and other live entertainment. Students are more than ready to have these events back now that there is a solid floor on which to hold them.