As I walk through Wilkerson, I see a familiar transformation on campus.
The Memorial Union has transitioned from a place to relax and discuss, to a library kind of environment with cubicles and an emphasis on studying over socialization.
I understand we need not only places to study and learn as a group, but also places where we can relax and get to know other students.
Wilkerson had the opportunity to become both of these, but squandered it in favor of repeating the pattern seen at the Memorial Union — to become yet another perfectly unnecessary study spot on campus.
Students enjoy Wilkerson, and there is a beautiful and relaxing fire with plenty of electrical outlets and cubicles to create an enjoyable study experience.
Furthermore, the dining area, currently flawed in concept, has the potential to become amazing with new equipment. Student employee morale has increased due to heat dispersion and shielding at the grill areas, while also being designed in such a way to decrease clutter.
There appears to be generally increased WiFi speeds, more electrical outlets and a greater carrying capacity. The building comfortably fits five times more students in the lower level than it did in the past. The outside looks welcoming and aesthetically pleasing, as opposed to the prevailing Cold War architecture on the rest of campus. I want to discuss what we lost from the new Wilkerson and discuss why we didn’t need yet another study spot on this campus.
The first thing we lost from Wilkerson was the homey and relaxing atmosphere of the past. Originally, Wilkerson had the web cafe, a perfect place for clubs and student organizations to meet. I remember walking past Wilkerson and it was almost a daily occurrence to see students in the Web Cafe, laughing playing either card, video or board games and seeing students who were just passing by.
I remember the massive dual projectors airing anime on Friday nights or the hockey games for those who didn’t have tickets.
It drew people in to meet new faces on campus and to build a community. There was a small set of couches and chairs outside the Web Cafe, where people could simply sit down and chill. I also remember the pseudo drunk tank hours of 2 to 4a.m with people laughing and getting loud, joking about lost keys or standing by the old fire-pit smoking a joint. People viewed it as a place to hang out and relax for a little bit, as opposed to the current culture at Wilkerson. Old Wilkerson provided a place on campus for people to relax and talk as opposed to complete their organic chemistry lessons.
It is essential for a UND success to provide not only a study spot on campus, but also to provide relief from the burdens and pressures that academics places on us. It is in this area that they have once again failed by removing another place to get away on campus in favor of another study space.
Dave Owen is a opinion columnist for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected]