The Need for Social Space

by John Strayer | 3/28/96 6:00am

Last term Dining Services announced several prospective changes. Pete Napolitano and friends are planning on turning the space once known as Hovey's Grill into a 24-hour vending arcade. This represents a perfect example of Dartmouth Dining Services putting financial expediency before student need. We should demand better.

This matter is complicated by the controversy which surrounds the location itself. Hovey's Grill was once a popular campus location, featuring live music and alcoholic beverages. However, it became embroiled in a controversy surrounding the "Hovey Murals" which decorated the Grill.

Painted long ago in Dartmouth's homogeneous white male past, the murals were considered offensive by various groups of students. However, alumni (read: money) have a strange love affair with these works. Eventually, Hovey's was closed and the murals were put under the auspices of the Hood Museum.

A lot of bickering led to a net loss for students. Social space in centrally located Thayer Dining Hall was eliminated on a campus where social space is at a premium. Hopefully, this pitfall can be avoided as we return to a discussion of that space.

With the completion of the new Collis, the Lone Pine Tavern surfaced as a new social space, serving a role similar to the old Hovey's.

The Lone Pine has been a tremendous success. In fact most students would say too successful.

Filled to its fire code on Friday and Saturday nights, and often featuring a wait for tables during weekday dinner hours, the Lone Pine simply cannot meet the overwhelming student demand. With a huge market of students looking for options there is no reason why the College cannot use the old Hovey's space to create another option similar to the Lone Pine. Each tavern could have its own niche and exist as complements to each other.

The new tavern could be marketed toward upperclass students. There is a massive population of upperclassmen who are tired of fraternity parties filled with sophomores.

These students then look to take advantage of their status as 21 year olds but quickly grow tired of Hanover's one bar.

Why not make the new tavern a place where they card at the door, with no limit on drinks. If everyone is of age there is no need to worry about passing drinks to minors.

Smoking would be allowed. More and more students are smoking and it is high time the College address their needs, not to mention all those non-smokers who like to smoke when they drink. Anyone looking for a smoke free environment could head to the Lone Pine.

While the Lone Pine features quiet, acoustic acts, the new pub could dare to feature louder student bands. As this vision takes shape it becomes clear that there is plenty of room for the Lone Pine and a new tavern to live together in harmony.

But Pete Napalitano wants to use the space for vending machines. Seniors remember with fondness the old Topside vending machines which were perfect for those 4 a.m. drunken munchies.

However, in the absence of these machines students have found other sources of late night food. FoodStop and dorm machines have taken up the slack; I have never heard a single student complain about his or her inability to obtain a microwave burrito.

Dartmouth Dining Services views the situation differently. Sure, students maybe finding sources for late night food, but that is money that could be coming to us.

Set up a few twenty-four hour vending machines and bingo! Money that was heading to Food Stop now flows back into DDS coffers. The machines require no new student employees and are stocked by the companies that provide the burritos.

For students vending machines are a service that is available elsewhere, but for DDS they are a no hassle cash cow, much easier to implement than what students really need: another pub.

If you think Dartmouth Dining Services should think more about students and less about their bottom line, then blitz Pete Napalitano and tell him so. DDS is granted its monopoly with the understanding that they must be responsive to student needs. Let's hold them to it.

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