Student Government in talks to transform previous bookstore into new student space


Photo by Caroline Burns for The Lafayette

The college’s bookstore moved from the basement of Farinon to the first floor of the new McCartney dorms in April 2021. As of now, the space in the Farinon basement is not being used. (Photo by Caroline Burns ’22)

By Emma Chen, Assistant News Editor

Student Government is currently in conversation with Dean of Students Brian Samble about renovating the space where the college bookstore used to be located in the basement of Farinon into a new multipurpose student space. He noted that construction could be done in fall 2022 if the project begins this upcoming spring or summer.

The closure of The Spot, an old student space at the bottom of College Hill, left a lack of social spaces for students on campus.

“When The Spot was removed as a social space on the Arts Campus, that left sort of a gap for where people could find a place to build community and have dances and other social activities,” Samble said. “And so especially with so many buildings being closed late into the night [and] early morning, there was really a limited number of places people could go.”

At the beginning of his term, Samble created a task force in order to assess students’ needs and concerns. One major finding from this task force was the need for unaffiliated students to have areas to gather and socialize separate from Greek life.

Director of Student Involvement Vanessa Pearson also noted that the students have voiced the need for open spaces where clubs and organizations can host meetings and activities.

“The Dean’s task force has been working since the spring of 2021 to collect feedback from others about the space,” Pearson wrote in an email. “While I haven’t seen the survey results yet, a few themes have emerged from the feedback such as the need for a more casual open multipurpose room that could be used for dances, student group events, and large student group meetings and trainings.”

The Greek Life Committee has also begun prioritizing the increase of social events for people not involved in a Greek organization.

“This began in conversation with what the Greek Life Committee had proposed last semester about providing more student spaces and more living communities,” Student Government President Flor De Maria Caceres Godoy ‘22 said. “So that way, students would feel like they could engage in certain activities or events workshops without necessarily being affiliated through Greek life.”

In envisioning this new student space, one of the large focuses is making it multi-purpose and open for 24 hours a day, according to Caceres. There are limited social or academic buildings available at later hours of the night for students that want to get out of their dorm building.

“I think there’s all sorts of things that can be done with that space and make it multi-purpose so that…it can be used for meetings and evenings, it can be used for events, but it’s obviously a central space,” College President Nicole Hurd said. “And I’m very excited because as you know, we’re always looking for space for students to feel that they have access to and can be an inclusive space.”

However, this poses some challenges. There would be a need for increased custodial staff, security concerns as well as possible theft issues considering that there are two dining halls in the building. Balancing the need for student spaces at night with the need to maintain the space will be something with which facilities and student life will have to grapple.

“A twenty-four-seven space also requires looking at security cameras to ensure safety at overnight hours and fob access should be ideally single entry to the building so we can monitor that only students are in the space and not a random person,” Samble said. “There are dining facilities inside of it, so we have to make sure that soda machines are locked up so that people aren’t getting into those, but I do believe that making Farinon a twenty-four-seven space is possible with certain facilities interventions.”

Student Government first got involved in the project so Samble could get student feedback about the space.

“We definitely want to have at least a seat at the table in terms of a few representatives and being able to speak on behalf of the student body to see what they would like to see for the future generations,” Caceres said.

Another aspect of the Student Government’s involvement in the new student space is funding. Samble and the college have asked the Student Government to invest some of their reserves into the space. The reserve is made up of the extra money that is not being allocated to student organizations or activities.

“In addition to providing feedback on the space and serving as the student voice in the process, Student Government was asked to consider funding a portion of the renovation costs,” Pearson wrote. “Student Government has a substantial reserve account, which is where any potential funding would come from.”

Samble noted that this was a large opportunity for the students to leave a lasting legacy at the college, one that can be enjoyed by students for years to come.

“For the Student Government, for the college, this is a real opportunity to look beyond the current year and really talk about legacy building,” Samble said. “And class years and more to come, they’re going to be able to have a space where they can socialize.”