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Space Improvement Initiative
In discussions with our classmates, the Student Advisory Committee identified improvement of space and facilities as key to improving the themes of community, climate, and coherence that were noted by the Task Force. To further the Task Force’s goal of strengthening the intellectual atmosphere, we need spaces for students and faculty to interact and spaces for students to come together to share knowledge; to create community, we need to create places that will draw students out of their rooms and enable them to interact. To create coherence of education and pride in Tufts, we need to create spaces that facilitate learning and make buildings desirable places in which to learn and live.
We feel strongly that there are many problems with current facilities on campus. Existing facilities are designated by their social, academic, and residential functions, and there are few facilities that bridge these areas of campus life. To supplement and enhance the initiatives proposed by the Task Force, we have identified some areas that need improvement.
To bridge the gap between students’ social and academic lives, it is crucial that residential facilities facilitate intellectual dialogue among students and between students and faculty. For this reason, we think the college system proposed by the Task Force is an excellent idea. But for it to work, students must take pride in the dorms in which they live. The benefits of the college system outweigh the restriction of living in one cluster for the first two years of college only if all dorms are equally desirable residences. Many of our existing dorms are not designed well, and students have no desire to congregate in the common rooms because they are run-down and offer few amenities. There are also many classrooms that are in poor conditions, and it is difficult for students to learn when they do not feel comfortable in a room.
To strengthen intellectual atmosphere through the residential colleges and classroom space, we make the following suggestions:
Ø The maintenance of current study spaces and the addition of more chairs and tables will provide a space for academic discussions and group learning. Vary table size and add study carols so as to attract different types of learners to the common space.
Ø Adding Ethernet access to all study lounges is essential to bringing students out of their rooms to learn with each other.
Ø Install lamps so that all common/study rooms have adequate lighting.
Ø Put round tables in all small classrooms.
Ø Continue existing efforts to renovate classrooms and update them with technology.
Ø Construction of small study rooms outside the library -- for example, in the common areas of dorms or in academic building. These spaces must be designed to be soundproof.
Ø Make existing study lounges soundproof.
Ø Renovate dorms so that small study lounges are easily accessible on every floor, such as in Miller Hall.
Ø Complete Phase III of the campus center so there is a dining space where students and faculty can come together.
Social facilities on campus are inadequate, and the lack of spaces that bring students and faculty together has a negative affect on our sense of community. Students are reluctant to go to the campus center to eat or study because it is too crowded. Faculty dining areas are separated from student ones, and there are few places that are quiet enough for a student to sit down and talk with a professor. To promote a stronger sense of community, we recommend that improvements be made to facilities where faculty and students could congregate.
Ø Invest in games and nice furniture for the common rooms of dorms. Establish a plan for beatification of dorms over the summer – redo common rooms, paint the walls, buy nice chairs (bean bags, papazons, etc), and new carpets.
Ø Put cardiovascular exercise equipment in dorms.
Ø Use Gantcher for the large events and speeches that students want to go to. For example, some seniors were unable to get into pub night at Dewick – an event that is supposed to build community in the class – because the facility is not big enough.
Ø Put swinging benches in the space between Tilton and Lewis. Also, put benches on the residential quad.
Ø Install e-mail stations in the campus center and Brown and Brew.
Ø In implementation of Phase III of the campus center, build a central mailbox facility.
Ø Put a small eatery or coffee shop on or near the residential quad or revamp and advertise Oxfam Café.
Ø Perform a comprehensive evaluation of athletic facilities and renovate them as needed. Noted weaknesses include a grossly inadequate amount of cardiovascular machines in the Fitness Center, a lack of spectator space at the pool, run-down squash courts, and run-down locker rooms in both Cousens and the Baronian Fieldhouse.
That there are few buildings that combine the residential, academic, and social aspects of student life causes student life to be segmented. Many of the suggestions we have already made address the need for crossover facilities. But another reason for the lack of cohesion to the Tufts experience is that students do not take pride in the places in which they live and learn because of their physical condition. To address this problem, we make the following suggestions:
Ø Continue the effort to put the Tufts name, colors, seal, and mascot all over campus. If the residential college system is implemented, design seals and mascots for each college and place them all over those buildings.
Ø Place more signs and information about Tufts history around campus. Establish a walking tour that visits significant spots and place signs there explaining the spots. Hang older pictures of Tufts prominently in each building.
Ø Renovate dorms and classroom buildings to have spaces like the East Hall Lounge in which classes can be held.
Though many of our suggestions may seem costly, none are radical departures from the improvements that are made to campus each year. Each of the short-term solutions simply asks that money be spent in a more intentional way and that improvements that enhance intellectual atmosphere, community, and coherence be given priority. Additionally, such projects can gain funds by having fundraisers pitch specific ones to particular donors and put their name on it. For example, a campus beautification fund could be established through which alumni can pay a certain amount of money to have a flowerbed or tree with a plaque with their name on it – or they can dedicate it to an influential professor or friend. Classrooms and common rooms could be named after alumni who donate money to renovate them. No matter what the cost of these improvements, we see space and facilities improvements as necessary to the realization of many of the Task Force recommendations.
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