Among the various conversations happening on campus about the long term future of Pomona College, including its perception outside of Claremont and the Master Plan, changes in the Smith Campus Center (SCC) will move some of its most prominent offices to more remote locations and replace them with more academic services.
During the summer of 2013, the Writing Center will move out of Pearsons Hall and into the current Career Development Office (CDO) on the ground level of the SCC, while the CDO will move just east of the SCC to Alexander Hall. Additionally, the Draper Center for Community Outreach will move out of its current space on the second floor of the SCC to a building on Eighth Street next to Pendleton Business Office. The new Quantitative Skills Center and the Dean of Students tutoring service will take over that space starting in the fall.
Assistant Vice President of Facilities and Campus Services Bob Robinson was the facilitator for the conversations about which spaces would be relocated.
“It was a rather broad conversation about what the needs of the college and specifically the student requirements and student academic programs needed,” Robinson said.
In this case, the Draper Center and the CDO had both requested relocation because of space constraints. Neither group currently has all of their offices in one contiguous area, but rather are split between different spaces within the SCC.
“This is actually in response to the needs of both of those offices,” Dean of Students Miriam Feldblum said.
“My initial reaction was that it doesn’t seem very practical,” Tara Miller PO ’14 said. “It seems like the CDO is always trying to get more people to come into the office, and if we move it into Alexander, they’re going to have an even harder time getting people to come in.”
Rishi Sangani PO ’15, whose work as First-year Class President last year increased first-year and sophomore traffic to the CDO, agreed.
“I do think they are going to lose a lot of traffic; no kid is going to just walk into Alexander,” he said.
Sangani is in favor of the relocation, however.
“In terms of the space that they’re going to have there, I do think it’s going to be beneficial,” he said.
Director of the CDO Mary Raymond agreed that the move will take the office out of students’ direct eyesight, but she “could not be happier” about the relocation. The current space in the SCC designated for the CDO does not fit all of the offices in one contiguous area, which means that about half of its employees are working out of the basement instead of in the main office on the ground level.
Raymond predicted that the move to Alexander will not heavily affect the foot traffic to the CDO.
“We’ve made some inroads this year with programming and resources, and I think that if we have something to offer they will come,” she said.
Director of the Draper Center Maria Tucker agreed that programs and services are more important than physical location on campus.
“When I got here to the college, the space was thought to be a similar space, that people wouldn’t walk upstairs,” she said. “That hasn’t been a problem for us at all. I operate with the motto ‘If you build it, they will come,’ and I feel like the Draper Center has that kind of pull.”
Tucker mentioned the proximity of the parking lot on Eighth Street, which will attract more interaction with community members who arrive on campus by car. She said she is also looking forward to working collaboratively with the Office of Black Student Affairs and Chicano Latino Student Affairs.
The Writing Center, whose student Writing Fellows provide help with papers and other written assignments, will be moved into the space that CDO currently occupies.
“I’m delighted to be moving into that space,” Center Director Professor Dara Regaignon said. “We’re expecting with the move into the new space, we’ll be able to create a synergy between the living room and the Writing Center.”
“I definitely feel like there are a lot of people that could benefit from the Writing Center that don’t go because they’re just not aware of it or it’s not accessible to them,” Writing Fellow Ellie Merle PO ’14 said. “Having a much more central location will help that.”
The SCC has undergone many changes since its complete overhaul in the mid-1990s, with organizations moving in and out over the years, said Neil Gerard, former Associate Dean of Students and Director of the SCC. Gerard said that he worries about the overall impact of the moves.
“I worry about whether [the Writing Center] will be live and vibrant space adding to the campus center. I think it will be great for them; it will give them a lot of visibility, but I don’t see it as a huge traffic builder,” he said.
Current Director of the SCC Chris Waugh said that the relocations of the Writing Center, CDO, and Draper Center will not negatively affect the SCC.
“I really don’t think that the changes that I’ve been aware of change the feel or the scope of the building,” he said.