Where will you be at midnight tonight?
If you’re a student in the College, you almost certainly won’t be asleep in bed, so you might be looking for something to do. But don’t go looking in the Reynolds Club, in Ida Noyes, in Ratner, or in Crown, or really anywhere else on campus outside the dorms. Come midnight, every building on campus that might pass for a “social space” or “community hub” will be bolted shut, driving College students either back into their dorm rooms or to apartments throughout the neighborhood.
This is surely one of the great ironies of our campus: At the times of the week when students are most likely to be socializing—right around midnight on Friday and Saturday—the College offers no meaningful venues for socialization. Few of us are of age to enjoy the Pub, and while house lounges are OK, visiting friends in other houses or dorms is a hassle, especially when more than a few people are gathering. If you want to meet up with people from class or an RSO, the most convenient and comfortable places to do that are nearly all off campus.
This wouldn’t make sense at any school, and least of all at one like ours, where administrators are encouraging upperclassmen to remain in campus housing. Ultimately the appeal of dorm living isn’t the proximity to mediocre cafeterias or the availability of four-person quads with kitchenettes. People will choose to stay in housing in greater numbers once doing so is an appealing option socially, but for now, the center of student social life is off campus and away from the dorms.
That will still be the case long after any of us graduate, but it doesn’t have to be true forever. The College can begin the change now by establishing social spaces on campus. The offerings don’t need to be elaborate—for half a quarter’s tuition check, a common room could be outfitted with some televisions, couches, a Coke machine, and an Xbox—but they should reflect the realities of 20-year-olds’ social lives. At 11:30, we still have plenty of energy to play pick-up at Ratner or start watching a movie, and if the College wants to keep us around campus, it has to give us something that caters to us at that time of night.
The University is, in a sense, lucky in its effort to keep more students on campus: It’s not as though Housing and Dining Services have to compete with some vibrant local nightlife that’s pulling us away. It is hardly worth repeating that Hyde Park has an entertainment vacuum in need of filling. The upshot is that in some dorm room at midnight tonight, there will students asking themselves what they’re going to do next, and it’s time that the U of C give them an answer.
The Maroon Editorial Board consists of the Editor-in-Chief and Viewpoints Editors.