College Hopes To Revitalize Loker Commons

In the midst of what appears to be the waning popularity of Loker Commons, the College administration is making an effort to revitalize the campus's only student center.

At issue is whether the underutilized student center should be transformed from an informal meeting hall to a social center.

"We're trying hard to make Loker Commons a destination as opposed to just a crossroads," Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis '68 said yesterday.

Loker has been struggling for months to draw students in the numbers that it did when it opened last year.

Because of rising debts, the center has reduced its hours, cut back on its employees and slightly raised prices at eateries, Leonard P. Condenzio, acting director of Harvard Dining Services, said last month.

Different possibilities for the future of Loker were discussed in the Committee on Campus Life (COCL) meeting last week.

Possible changes suggested at the meeting include adding a television, changing the space where the vending machines currently sit and creating "sub-spaces" within the current Commons, according to Lewis.

Dean of Student Archie C. Epps III is the point man on the revitalization, said Lewis. Epps is in the process of forming an ad-hoc committee to discuss the future of Loker.

Rudd W. Coffey '97, who sits on both the new Epps committee and the 1994 Loker Commons Advisory Committee, said the administration is interested in a very wide range of possibilities.

"All we know is the administration is eager to redo this place," Coffey said.

Coffey suggested more far-ranging changes than Lewis listed, including bringing in outside chains such as Pizza Hut or Taco Bell or adding a game room.

According to Coffey, Lewis called the $25 million commons "the world's most expensive study hall."

Marco B. Simons '97, former chair of the U.C. Student Affairs Committee, said the need to make Loker more of a student center and less of an academic one is one which students predicted long ago.

"I think the administration is realizing what the students have been saying all along," Simons said.

Coffey said the topic of Loker changes has been popular among students with whom he has spoken.

"I've gotten a lot of student input," said Coffey. "The administration wants us to sift through student responses."

Dining services has also sampled student opinion on the addition of televisions at Loker.

In a poll taken election night, nearly 80 percent of the 250 student surveyed said they were either interested or extremely interested in the possibility of bringing TVs to Loker, according to Dining Services Project Manager Alexandra E. McNitt.

Students interviewed in a nearly deserted Loker last night also advocated the changes proposed by Coffey.

"I would be extremely in favor of a game room," said Moses Liskov '97. "There was one in the Union, but now there are only a few scattered among the houses."

Carey J. Bollinger '98 said that the addition of pool tables and other recreational equipment might make Loker more attractive as a hang-out.

"I think a game room would bring a lot of people," agreed Arianne M. Spaccarelli '00. "I've been to unions at other colleges and they are a lot more social.