By Alyssa Gautieri
Since its construction in 1976, the Clayton R. Brower Student Center had undergone very few changes until the College began renovations in March 2015. With renovations finally completed, the College community has begun to take advantage of the student center’s many new features.
From a range of new dining options, to a high-tech event room, the College’s staff, students and alumni expressed excitement toward the new student center.
A universal area of excitement with a spacious, open layout, was a major focus for the student center’s updated design.
“We are all particularly excited about the open layout,” said Sean Stallings, interim associate vice president of Student Affairs. “The renovation has opened the space, added windows to the second floor, created a central staircase and upgraded its finishes.”
Jessica Campisi, a sophomore biology major, also appreciates the spaciousness and brightness of the new development.
“I really like the ceilings,” she said. “It’s been so dark in here, and now it is light and so much more open. It just seems bigger. It’s also nice not to see it under construction.”
Alumna Colleen Dean (‘16) agreed with Campisi.
“I think there is so much more natural lighting, which is nice,” Dean said. “It used to be much darker.”
The student center also features an updated game room, which includes popular staples like table tennis, billiards and video game systems, as well as a new options such as a giant Connect Four game, shuffleboard and air hockey.
“We’ve also added beanbag seating to create a fun, relaxing environment,” Stallings said. “Students can look forward to having a place to unwind when they need to take a break.”
Amanda Vrindten, a history and secondary education dual major, enjoys the atmosphere of the game room.
“I like the game room. As you can see, most of the boys are over there, but I take advantage of it sometimes,” she said with a laugh.
The renovated student center offers the same amount of student organization offices as the previous structure, however, the offices are now all located on the same level. The student organization offices are also located on the second floor adjacent to the professionals in Student Affairs, who work closely with those groups.
“Students are now better positioned to collaborate with one another as well as work with leaders in the building,” Stallings said. “The offices have received parity in size, design, furnishings, and technology.”
The student center also features a high-tech event room, providing a location for major campus events including the recent TCNJ Campaign Gala or the annual Senior Gala. It can also function as a venue for special guest lectures using its telescopic seating, or for the College Union Board’s movie series using its 7.1 theater surround sound system.
“The event room is a multi-purpose space designed to offer a much-needed option for campus programming,” Stallings said. “A motorized wall, which allows for flexibility in size or simultaneous programming, can divide the room.”
While the student center has always been a popular destination for students at the College, the renovation will now allow full deployment of wireless internet coverage.
“The technology in the building is awesome,” said Audrey H. Perrotti, the director of the Brower Student Center. “Students will appreciate the built-in, state-of-the-art media equipment in the rooms. The large movie screen, media corner and global center are great additions.”
The media corner allows students to engage and collaborate with one another by projecting their work on a large screen. The global corner, which has not yet been introduced, will create a space for students to remain connected to the broader world, practice foreign language development or host programming.
Additionally, a major draw to the building is its dining offerings: Traditions, the only sit-down dining experience on campus, and the new-look Lions Den that offers burgers, subs, sushi and more for takeout.
While students seem to be enjoying the new student center, many still have one popular concern — long lines during meal equiv.
“All of the food is really good, but the lines are really crazy,” Vrindten said.
Perrotti addressed concerns regarding long lines.
“We are a work in progress,” Perotti said. “The functionality of the Lions Den is under consistent evaluation. We are only going to get better.”
Alumnus Kevin Luo (‘16), called the renovated student center “awesome” and “really nice,” but he also had a complaint regarding the new layout.
“The one thing I don’t really like is that it used to be a bit more of a social area,” he said. “There used to be more couches and people just hanging out, which I prefered. It almost feels more cafeteria-y now, and more of just a place to sit and eat.”
Despite the change in atmosphere, Luo still offered positive feedback.
“I do think the whole look of (the new student center) is nice,” he said. “It looks more new age. The old STUD had an older feel, it was definitely in need of some renovations. I like the look of it a lot better now.”
Back in 2011, the College began considering the renovation of the student center, and significant thought and planning went into the structure’s new design.
“The process involved students and staff working out the conceptual design of what the renovated building would offer all members of our campus community,” Stallings said. “We wanted to modernize the building and take advantage of its centralized location.”
Perrotti also commented on the thought behind the STUD’s design.
“The design goal was to maximize every bit of our existing and new space to offer options where students can comfortably relax, study, socialize and dine,” Perrotti said. “I believe that more students will feel at home and utilize the building.”
With the student center finally completed, the College still hopes to hear more student, alumni and faculty feedback regarding the new development.
“We are very interested in hearing what students have to say about the new building,” Stallings said. “We believe the final result is a great success and all of the feedback has been positive thus far.”
While the College continues to refine the renovation, several students have found the center’s return to be a valuable asset to the campus community.