A student center is sorely needed to enhance services and provide a cohesive center of campus, which is why we’re excited Mills College seems committed to building one.
It has been four years now since the college first developed plans to build the center and while a date for construction has not yet been set, we hope it follows through. At a recent community meeting, officials said the project would cost upwards of $35 million and would take about three years to build.
The main goal of such a project should be to make the area of Rothwell Center and Adams Plaza a truly cohesive center of campus, since at present such a place doesn’t quite exist. Although the Student Union and various community spaces are located there, and while students and staff congregate in the plaza during lunch each weekday to grab a bite to eat or get something in the bookstore, the area seems rather fragmented. That the Tea Shop and Cafe Suzie are so small means there are no dining options on the weekend except for Founders Commons, up that often dreaded hill. As far as studying, relaxing and general hanging out goes, each group and department is in a sense on its own. There is little area dedicated for use as study space either, and no computer lab.
The new student center will ideally centralize campus dining so there is enough space to accomodate a growing student population as well as provide a more convenient dining option over the weekends. While it should maintain its affinity spaces, such as the Commuter, Mary Atkins and Parenting lounges, there should be lots of room for everyone to relax, socialize and study comfortably, with access to resources such as a computer lab. Intimate meeting spaces would ensure clubs no longer have to use classrooms for events. A combined center for the post office and mail and copy center would also make sense, as would housing student government offices and perhaps the women’s health resource center.
There are, of course, many issues to keep in mind. Architects will have to find a way to seamlessly integrate the Student Union, which as a historic space cannot be demolished, and provide enough space for all of the center’s components without creating a giant monolith that doesn’t fit with the aesthetics of the campus. And during construction, administrators will have to get creative with where everyone who currently calls the area home will be temporarily housed. But if executed right, the creation of a student center will bring cohesion to the entire campus community and will be a pivotal moment in moving the college forward.