K&W COMMONS CREATIVE TOWN HALLS: AN UPDATE

Maggie Ellis

[FPH Faculty Lounge] Pizza boxes, sticky notes and posters greeted Hampshire College students, faculty, and staff on Tuesday, Feb. 9th for the much-anticipated Knowledge and Wellness Commons Creative Town Halls. The first of the two was packed with faculty and staff mostly from the CLA, admissions, and college advancement, but regardless, plenty of students squeezed their way in. In the second meeting, about 25 students were present, in addition to five or six faculty. Both workshops were facilitated by the personnel from the project consultants, “BrightSpot” who is advising the mysterious Hampshire steering committee on this project, and the boys (and girls) from our bosom architecture firm Bruner/Cott. Most students were in attendance to represent larger student groups such as CoSAA, Re-Hamping, HSU, Re-Rad, or were there to advocate for student spaces such as the Wellness Center, the Center for Feminisms, and the Spiritual Life Center. BrightSpot, a consulting firm, who claims that they do their best to: “help guide other organizations to their future”, led the workshop, which was focused on the attendees sharing what they thought the new Knowledge and Wellness commons should be and what it should include. Brightspot and Bruner/Cott were both hired by Hampshire to create a Knowledge and Wellness Commons that will ideally become the heart of campus where every student can come to for their own wants and needs.

During the evening town hall, after a few activities involving stickers, graphs, and categorizing “Wellness,” the conversation focused on accessibility, “safe” spaces, queer spaces, and representation of Hampshire’s communities in the Wellness Commons. The importance of the work of the Cultural Center in supporting Wellness at Hampshire was stressed. There seemed to be some consensus that Hampshire needs a multi-use space that is flexible and accessible, and that it is imperative that Health & Counseling Services be re-located to the Commons (the design of which will most likely incorporate the existing RCC and Bridge).

A big factor in the successful integration of the Commons will be in the ways which services are provided to our academic community. The particularities of an academic schedule and the workload of students will impact decisions about hours of operation, staff availability, and hopefully the actual “feel” of the place. Ezekiel Baskin, F15, said succinctly that the Commons should be a place for current students, “a place where we’re not selling something.”

Bruner/Cott will host a series of open forums in March and are open to input from everyone at Hampshire.

 

 Read The Howler for more updates on this project throughout the semester.
If you have any feedback or suggestions for this space, please feel free to email us at thehampshirehowler@gmail.com, we will happily forward anything we receive to the architects, Brightspot, and the steering committee once we can find out who is on it…

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