The right role for Collis

by House Editorial | 1/14/94 6:00am

She had a dream - to one day see her college with all its students gathered comfortably under the same roof. To personally foster the sense of community that only a school stashed out in the middle of rural New Hampshire would support. And to give students here the diverse array of social activities that undergraduates in city schools only have to step off campus to find.

Now she has a reality - Collis Center. The accumulation of four years of thought and action on the part of Dean of Student Life Holly Sateia stands before the entire College community to contemplate, compliment or criticize. The reality should be applauded. But the dream is too optimistic.

The new student center does draw a crowd, especially at meal times when there is almost always a line for a seat, and in the pool room, where players are lucky to find an available table within the night. Collis offers Friday Night Dance Club a space more inviting than Webster Hall and more comfortable than a fraternity basement.

But the dream - that the overwhelming majority of Dartmouth students, whose night-time activities are centered in a fraternity basement, would trade in their unlimited refills of beer for a three-drink limit; their free pool tables for $4 an hour; and their crowded, dank hideaways for the brightly-lit Collis Center - is still that, just a dream. To be reminded of Dartmouths devotion to fraternities and alcohol, one only has to recall the mob of 100 angry students rallying at the 1991 bonfire to protest the administrations ban on kegs, or the 820 students who packed Webster Hall the previous May to speak out against the Colleges new alcohol policy.

But are these the students who really need a social alternative - Collis or otherwise? If theyre happy hanging out in the fraternities, why would they want to change? And are they really the ones to whom the Center should cater? Instead, Collis should be designed to serve the students who do not enjoy spending every weekend night on frat row. By focusing on the section of the student body that needs and wants a student center like that of Sateias dreams, the administration will be able to provide the desired outlet. By trying to extend its audience to every undergraduate, it is deluding itself.

A sense of community is optimistic, but a sense of reality is necessary. Part of serving the students is knowing when not to. Invariably, Sateia will be disappointed that the new Center does not turn out to be the all-inclusive social hub she dreamed about. But she should be satisfied knowing Collis serves its purpose - as an alternative to the Greek system, not a replacement.

Advertise your student group in The Dartmouth for free!