Campus center finished early

Steve Martin

In a move that has amazed the Lawrence community, the highly anticipated new campus center was completed early, finished in an astounding two weeks. A month ago, ground breaking for the center was not even scheduled, and plans were barely finalized.
Campus officials cited a “strong, burning desire to satisfy the student body” as well as sudden contributions of “substantial amounts” of money from anonymous donors in their record-breaking construction of the center.
At the opening ceremony Friday, students, staff and faculty lined the sidewalk, taking pictures and weeping joyously as the doors were opened.
The ceremony was complete with fireworks, five-star catering, and a special interpretive dance performed by president Jill Beck.
But it was not the ceremony that touched students as much as the building itself. In last year, poster boards with possible designs were put up in the union and in Downer for students’ comments, and several meetings were held encouraging students to discuss ideas for the center.
Many campus organizations worried about the negative effects the center might have had on the surrounding landscape, and also whether the new space would be used properly.
Considering the discussions on the center, it was more miraculous than ever that at its opening, the entire student body came together to declare their absolute support for the new campus center.
Contributing to the sudden peace over the center was the preservation of Hulbert House, which was originally to be torn down to make room for the massive center.
“Sure, it might have saved us some time,” commented a worker from Boldt Construction – which won the building contract in an fair and open bidding process – “but all we had to do was build around the thing. In the long run, it’s all about the kids, ya know?”
Prompted by the good will and cooperation of the workers, students gathered around the center and held an impromptu powwow and drum circle that lasted until the morning hours.
While many students and faculty lingered outside, even more explored the new center. Walking through the huge entryway of the building, a Greenfire member said, “Boldt is magical.”
Indeed, the campus center is something to behold. The huge dining center is full of food options that, for the first time, just seem to satisfy everyone. Student members of SWAHP, Co-op and Greenfire were seen several times throughout the day openly applauding the food selections and praising Nancy Truesdell’s name.
At the new dining center, fresh food is served every day, complete with dozens of ethnic and vegan food options, as well as the world’s most renowned international chefs always on hand to cook up something special for a hungry student. In addition, the center boasts an unlimited amount of Pepsi and coffee – never bitter – which after 1 p.m. is free to all students.
Students discovered several unexpected but welcome facilities throughout the center: the movie theater – 10 screens, shows played 24 hours; the campus organization rooms, complete with several beds and full kitchens, perfect for late-night “workers” such as the Yuais and the staff of The Lawrentian – and the “multi-purpose room,” which has most recently been transformed into an experimental dance hall. All members of the Lawrence community, including professors, plan to join together on Tuesday nights to “dance away stress” and “bond” with their students and fellow colleagues. Regulars are expected to include Dean Paul Shrode, Professor Matt Ansfield, and of course, Jill Beck.
Most praised by the Lawrence community, however, are two special additions to the center: the Hall of Tolerance and the Meditation Tower. The Hall of Tolerance, situated right off the dining center, features “safe” rooms that promote love, understanding and acceptance; it is also home to GLOW and Lawrence International.
Lawrence students particularly praised the Meditation Tower. To reach this “tower of chill,” students must climb a winding stairwell before reaching a series of secluded rooms with windows facing the river, the smell of incense, and cushioned floors. It will be a welcome sanctuary when the daily grind becomes too much to handle.
Keeping with the “community” theme of the center, the tower is not only for students, either. Philosophy professor Patrick Boleyn-Fitzgerald and religious studies professor Dirck Vorenkamp have both been seen partaking in the peace and tranquility of the meditation space.
The final addition, and perhaps one of the most revered, is the new Viking Room, a venue that was often debated over in the campus center plans. The decision to move the VR from its previous location in Memorial Union subsequently met with overwhelming student praise.
“It seemed like such a waste to keep the VR so far from student activity,” set Truesdell. “We want the center to be a place of happiness, vibrancy, and acceptance – and if that has to occasionally involve alcohol, why the hell not?”
Even Beck, in her recent quest to become “the students’ president,” helped celebrate the new VR’s opening by playing numerous games of Circle of Death with VR regulars.
After months and years of planning and heated discussions, it is “a sincere relief,” in the words of Paul Shrode, that the community has so warmly received the new campus center. Never before has Lawrence seen such a perfect and unanimous campus response like this before.
Junior Adam Berey likened the rapid completion of the center to the creation of earth, saying, “It’s more than I ever would have imagined in my wildest dreams. It’s a spiritual experience to view that mass of concrete above the Fox.