Log leaves much to be desired: Examining student accessibility of revamped Log

November 11, 2015 by The Williams Record Editorial Board

Last week’s opening of the Log marked the first substantial new College dining option since Paresky opened its doors nearly a decade ago. Managed by Hops and Vines, the Log functions as a full-service, comparatively formal restaurant, offering pub fare as well as a bar. While some students have enjoyed the opportunity of dining at the Log, we take issue with the exclusionary manner in which it operates as well as the discrepancy between how the College initially pitched it (see “Log to return to student social scene with restaurant, bar operation,” October 29, 2014)  and how it has come to function in reality.

At present, it seems as if the primary way for students to take advantage of the Log is to spend money. Unfortunately, this inherently discriminates against students who cannot afford to spend the amount the Log demands. It seems the Log has been tailored towards more affluent students as its menu offers, among other considerably overpriced options, meals approaching a steep $30. This is, in part, due to its partnership with Hops and Vines. Of all of the local restaurants the College could have partnered with, it picked one of the most expensive options. Hops and Vines is perhaps the most high-end restaurant near the campus, which begs the question of why the College erected yet another higher-priced restaurant on Spring Street when Pera, Sushi Thai, Spice Root and the Purple Pub already fill that niche.

The Log is not currently a student-oriented space. The Log should be a space where all students can come to study and socialize. However, the rules set forth by the College prevent this from being a reality. The full-service nature of the restaurant makes using a laptop or taking notes at a table uncomfortable. Its website also states that students cannot bring their own food or drinks into the Log, explaining that the space “should be treated like any other restaurant in town. If you’d like to eat or drink anything, you’ll have to purchase it at the Log.” Another statement by the College explains that students “don’t have to buy anything to enjoy use of the Log,” suggesting that students are welcome to utilize the space without ordering food or drink. However, the full-service nature of the restaurant is not conducive to inviting students to use the Log without ordering anything. Two small rooms located just inside the entrance, each capable of seating roughly half a dozen people, offer the only space where students can study and socialize without having to purchase food or drink, but, even there, drink menus suggest that the seats are for paying customers. These insufficient spaces feel like token gestures, a perfunctory attempt by the College to follow through with its promise for the creation of a student-oriented setting while creating, in essence, simply another restaurant.

In order to increase the accessibility of the Log for all students, the Log should be more like a fast-casual restaurant. It should operate in a manner similar to that of ’82 Grill, where students order their food at a counter and find a seat at a communal table while their food is being prepared. Students should be allowed to bring their own food, just as they can in other College-run dining spaces. This will increase inclusivity and bring the Log in line with other student spaces on campus.

The lack of student prioritization, even in the Log’s first week of operation, raises many concerns. The Log’s policy, again stated on its website, prohibits the complete closing of the Log for any private events except for Log Lunch, making it more difficult for student groups to organize and hold events. We are concerned that students may not be able to easily reserve the space for events in general but especially during profitable weekend business hours, when the restaurant may want to prioritize paying customers.

Also troubling is the Log’s limited accessibility. The building is only open during the restaurant’s operating hours, which, on days when it’s open the longest, are still only noon to 2 a.m. This reinforces the Log’s nature as a space not aligned with student interests, but instead geared toward restaurant patrons and profit.

We hope that the College, upon initial review of student reception of the Log, will reconsider the manner in which the space is used. We are excited by the College’s establishment of another dining option. However, the nature of the restaurant both excludes a large portion of the student body and makes it much less accessible than other student-oriented spaces on campus. We encourage the College to consult with the community in order to form and investigate alternative ideas for how the Log might be adjusted, hopefully producing an environment that is more accommodating and welcoming to all students.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

hcc November 15, 2015 at 4:30 am

Williams College is in the hotel and restaurant business. There is an innocents in this article that is endearing. The Log is a ‘for profit’ venue that is designed, well, for profit. Just like the majority of Spring Street, which Williams also owns.

Its a command economy. About as pure a monopoly as one can find. The school could make an exception for The Log given the history of it? I think that is what this article is asking for. But you first have to acknowledge, that the college is a business. The primary function of the school is to make money.

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AB November 15, 2015 at 7:35 pm

If I’m choosing which bar to go to, I’ll definitely pick the cheapest option, which is still the Herring, by far.

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Alpha Pizza Phi November 19, 2015 at 12:41 am

This is a parody, right? The Log is not a place to go and stare at a computer or study, it’s not a brown bag lunch destination, it’s a place to socialize and interact with others. That’s what it has always been, that’s why they all it The Log. Students get a 30% discount on a very nice menu, I’m sure that helps make a pizza or burger quite affordable. We only had Alpha Pizza Phi, which was a student run pizzeria, undercooked, doughy and hardly gourmet, stale popcorn, pretzels beer and soda, and noone complained. The Log is open during most normal people’s waking hours, I suggest if you are at a loss for what do do in Williamstown at 3AM then you probably picked the wrong small college town, or need to go hang out at 7-11 until they reopen. I’m glad The Log is open again, it was always a fun place to socialize and for special events, and I don’t think I ever saw anyone studying there since that’s what the library is for.

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HC November 26, 2015 at 10:59 am

Why has this generation of students covered up art in The Log with plywood and Williams banners? Art should be banned if it is offensive, even if it is historically significant?

It is odd seeing the Williams College brand used to censor art.

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