Lone Pine space to be revamped for the fall

by Susan Matthews | 8/3/09 10:00pm

Students perform at Lone Pine Tavern, which closed in the spring in light of budget cuts, according to Dean of the College Tom Crady.
by Alice Zhao and Alice Zhao / The Dartmouth

Mhambi and Eric Ramsey, director of the Collis Center, said they hoped the space will be ready for use by the middle of Fall term.

The Collis Governing Board hopes to solicit outside donations to help fund renovations of the space, Mhambi said.

"A Dartmouth family has been interested in contributing to the social life on campus," Ramsey said, adding that Collis Governing Board would be engaging in conversations with the family.

Any funding from outside the College is "still in the proposal stage," he said.

Mhambi and the Collis Governing Board hope to create a viable social space for students and student groups to frequently utilize because the campus lacks such spaces, Mhambi said. Most of the programming sponsored by the College and various student organizations consists of "just one-time events," he said.

The College is working with interior designers from New York City on plans for the renovations, which will feature new lighting fixtures and furniture, Mhambi said.

Although the space will not have a license to sell food, it will have real glassware and dish-washing capabilities, so groups hosting events can be more environmentally conscious, Ramsey said.

Originally, the Collis Governing Board wanted to open a student-run coffee shop in the location, but did not receive the proper financing and could not obtain administrative approval, Mhambi said.

"The point was that we wanted to make it into a much more fun social space more multipurpose, not as focused on food," he said.

In the spring, the Collis Governing Board sent out a survey to the undergraduate student body asking how students thought the space could be most effectively used. Of the 600 respondents, 93.4 percent said they would like it to be a student-run coffee shop, and 89.4 percent said they would prefer to have gourmet coffee beverages served in the new space, according to a summary of the survey.

With the results of the survey, an informal subcommittee of the Collis Governing Board started working on a funding proposal for the cafe to be reviewed by the Undergraduate Finance Committee.

"The student-run business part of it was to make it run cheaply, and to make it a viable social space," Mhambi said, emphasizing that the idea "wasn't about business, it was more about the space."

The subcommitte proposed the idea to the UFC, but the College rejected the plan to have a student-run coffee shop because it would be difficult to have a consistent student manager with the Dartmouth Plan, Ramsey said. The continuous turnover in student management would also have made it difficult to implement New Hampshire state food service guidelines, he said.

The UFC granted the subcommittee one-third of the funding it had asked for, on the condition that it be put towards a different use of the space, Mhambi said.

Administrators were also hesitant to fund a student-run cafe, according to Mhambi.

"The administration shut down the idea of it being student-run," Mhambi said. "They thought it was competition for the [Collis] Cafe."

When Lone Pine closed in the spring, the students who frequented it were upset, Mhambi said. Some students were upset on a more "philosophical level," questioning how the College could "close the only space that was more socially oriented, more chill, more of a dining experience," he said.

Mhambi said that when he discussed the problem with Dean of the College Tom Crady, Crady referenced the campus-wide budget cuts as a reason the College closed Lone Pine.

In an interview with The Dartmouth, Crady said the Office of Student Life has been working with the Collis Governing Board to determine how to best use the empty space. He said his office has viewed the area as a viable option for a new social space since Lone Pine closed.

"I would want students to think about how best to use the space, and not to presume that we know," Crady said.

Ramsey also emphasized that the College is committed to soliciting student input in plans for the future of the space.