Epps, Council Throw in Towel on Student Center, Seek Alternative Space

Despite a semester of clamor for more student group offices, theaters and social space, students won't find the fabled College Hall underway when they return Harvard in the fall. The best efforts of the Undergraduate Council and Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III have failed to convince administrators that a new student center is the only answer to the current space crunch.

Instead of fighting for a new building, the council has resigned itself to the idea of finding space in the Houses and other Harvard-owned buildings. And with Epps' retirement, support within the administration for a student center has an uncertain future.

A Light in the Attic?

Administrators within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), whose support is crucial for the financing and construction of a student center, have maintained that a new building will not be a part of the student space solution.

"This is not under consideration," says Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis '68, a statement seconded by Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles.


Loker Commons, the multi-million dollar renovation to the basement of Memorial Hall, was supposed to serve as a student center--but without permanent student offices, the facility has become a study space and food court.

Lewis and Knowles say they both recognize the need for office and performance space but they would like to solve the problem by using existing FAS-owned buildings.

"I have said several times that there are real space issues confronting the College, and that student office space, space for publications, performance space, and meeting space are among them," Lewis wrote in an e-mail message. "It seems to me that there would not have to be a centralized facility to address these needs."

Knowles says that as buildings are renovated and repaired, spare space--"whether in attics or basements"--will be reserved for student needs.

At its last meeting two weeks ago, the Committee on College Life also discussed the possibility of designating space within the House system for use by student groups when the allocation of House resources is reviewed.

A Dream Deferred

But a decentralized solution misses Epps and the council's point.

"The single site is a way of enhancing community at the College," Epps says.

But while Epps still has his vision of College Hall, he now admits that it's unlikely his dream will become a reality.

"The proposal for a student center is not getting the support from my colleagues that it needs," Epps says.

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