MU students find difficulties adjusting to new student center

Monday, May 11, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 8:08 a.m. CDT, Monday, May 11, 2009

COLUMBIA — For nearly five months, MU junior Candace Stampley has had to adjust to the new Student Center.

She used to sit in Brady Commons and socialize with her friends to alleviate stress. But the completion of Phase One of the Student Center has forced Stampley to find somewhere else to meet up with friends. 

Similarly, the newly developed Prelude program, which is held in the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center, was created to give students another place to hang out besides Brady Commons. The event was advertised by word of mouth and on Facebook.

"It is basically the idea of having a place where students could meet as they did daily in Brady Commons and moving it to the BCC (Black Culture Center),” Stephens said. “All students are welcome to attend, the same as they were able to go to Brady Commons."

MU senior Daryl Scales said there are still some problems with the Prelude, the location being one of them.

“It’ll never be able to replace the old Brady Commons,” he said. “The joys of Brady Commons were at anytime, there was always a set of people walking through Brady."

Since the Jan. 5 opening of the Student Center and the recent demolition of Brady Commons, some students still feel the loss of their familiar hangout. But lounge space does exist in the new building, even though it's not currently widely publicized.

MU junior Carolyn Wallington said she used to study and do homework in Brady Commons between classes. But now she just walks back to her sorority house.

“Personally, I only go to the bookstore to buy books now," she said. "There’s no purpose to go there anymore besides that.”

Student Center spokesperson Michelle Froese said students requested more space when they voted in 2005 to renovate and expand Brady Commons. Phase Two of the project, expected to be complete in 2011, will rebuild the old Brady Commons building and connect it to the Student Center.

“Students are only experiencing a tiny portion of the renovation," Froese said. "It’s going to be so incredible in 2011, but it is hard right now because we are in between construction."

The completed project will include an event space, six restaurants, a copy center and several student lounges — about three times more lounge space than what is currently available, Froese said.

In the meantime, she encourages students to take advantage of extra seating and couches in Memorial Union and the new Leadership Lounge located on the upper level of the Student Center.

Few students currently take advantage of the lounge.

"It's more like Ellis Library than Brady Commons," said Katie Schwartzmeyer of the lounge's Information Center. "I work Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and I only see three or four people at the minimum."

Neither Wallington nor Stampley had heard of the Leadership Lounge and expressed no interest in using it because it isn't easily accessible. The lounge cannot be accessed from inside the Student Center; students must use the stairs or the elevator by the main entrance or go through the back by the construction.

Stampley said one possible reason students don't know about the Leadership Lounge is because of minimum exposure and sign usage.

Signs on both sides of the Student Center advertise ATMs and restrooms, and adding "Leadership Lounge" to the signs is a possibility, Froese said.

Froese said there are also other ways she plans to spread the word about the Leadership Lounge.

"We're looking at developing a Facebook page just for the new Student Center with a countdown of the final phase of the Student Center and pictures of how students are using it," she said.

She also suggested distributing information about the new Student Center during Summer Welcome, the orientation and registration period for incoming freshmen.

"That would be great to make that part of the tour — take new students up (to the Leadership Lounge) and show them the room," Froese said. "In the fall, we are going to take some food from the Truman Takeout, sample it on other locations on campus to let students know what we will have in the final phase of the new Student Center."

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