Lawrence has undergone some fairly significant changes this year, from what it’s lost (LU-R1 program) to what it’s gained (a new president). But by the nature of the university system, wherein students cycle through every four (or sometimes five) years, it’s difficult to know the context and longer-term effects of some of these changes. We are also unaware of the ways campus has changed in years past to make the institution we know and love now.
Enter Max Feldkamp. Feldkamp is a fifth-year math and piano performance double-degree student with an emphasis in piano pedagogy. Feldkamp started taking music theory classes here his junior year of high school, making this his seventh year as a Lawrentian. Having also lived in Appleton since 2000 means he has many insights into the sometimes radical, sometimes minute changes that have happened on and off campus recently.
Because he has been here so long, Feldkamp can speak to many aspects of life at Lawrence—yes, it’s true that there was an 80-degree day in March several years ago. One aspect of life at Lawrence that students take for granted is the campus center. Built in 2008, nearly no current students remember the days before Warch and Andrew Commons.
Back then, Downer, where the Hurvis Center is now, was the cafeteria on campus. The food there, according to Feldkamp, “was not as bad as some colleges, but it certainly doesn’t compare to what we’ve got now. Downer was like your high school or even middle school cafeteria where you go through the lines, like, ‘Yeah I want that, no I don’t want that,’ and someone’s slopping the mashed potatoes on your tray.
What campus lacked in quality in the pre-Warch days, it made up in variety. In addition to Downer, there was also Lucinda’s, a potluck-style eatery in Coleman, and a union near where the Viking Room is now. Before, explains Feldkamp, “you could be like, ‘I really don’t want to eat at Downer. Oh, let’s eat at Lucinda’s.’”
And the union filled more of a social function, much as the café does now. In fact, when the Warch opened and the union—as well as Lucinda’s and Downer—closed, “there were a good one or two terms where people were like, ‘We want the old union grill back.’ It was sort of silly, because the arguments people were making were really ridiculous too. Like, ‘We want our greasy Viking burger back.’”
For those who don’t know, the Viking burger was “a greasy burger with cheese on a sourdough bun” that “made people feel like a part of the community or something.”
In replacing the old union, the lack of a Viking burger is not the only way Max believes the café has not lived up to its promise. He sees the café as “one of those things that they seem to not be able to make up their minds” about because “with the focus that Bon Appétit seems to want to have on local foods, healthy foods, the café seems to be shifting away from that.”
In addition to the food, the campus center has had a geographical impact on campus, as well. Instead of Hurvis crossing, there was a “pretty janky metal girder bridge. Sage seemed off-campus and Trever was no-man’s land.” Though people still complain about Trever’s distance from other parts of campus, Warch does a lot to make it feel more accessible.
But this centralizing of campus has also had some negative effects. For example, “For things like the freshman studies lunch rush, it makes things really crowded,” said Max.
Despite any shortcomings, it’s hard to imagine campus now without Warch and Andrew Commons. There is value in remembering that the food was not always so good and that Trever was not always so accessible. The next time we complain about the lack of double chocolate muffins at brunch, it would do us well to remember those who had to use the janky metal girder bridge.