Editorial: Bring Back the Olde (and Better!) Party Spaces

It seems that the campus late-night scene is gradually recovering from its pandemic-induced hibernation as more and more people host parties as the semester goes on. With AREs resuming, the mask mandate reduced, and the in-person attendance cap discontinued, most of the barriers preventing people from hosting parties are no longer in effect. The dearth of party spaces, however, continues to be a significant impediment to the party scene on campus. We, The Phoenix, implore the college to open up more party spaces on campus and to streamline the process of hosting parties. 

Students hoping to host parties have a woefully limited selection of locations to choose from. Paces, traditionally the primary party space, is in too high demand to accommodate all the reservation requests. Furthermore, it is often too small, crowded, and desecrated to host proper events. Upper Tarble is no longer available for parties due to safety concerns surrounding its unstable flooring. The Matchbox 3rd floor, which recently hosted Swat Prom, is too big to host a traditional party but was too small to accommodate all the Spring formal attendees. Olde Club, which in the past hosted parties at a frequency rivaling Paces, has not been open since the advent of the pandemic.

With the lack of viable options, students have been turning to hosting parties in common spaces in residential buildings. These include Mephisto’s lounge in Willets, the common room in Danawell connector, and the atrium in Alice Paul, among others. Though these spaces are a lifeline for the party scene on campus, they come with numerous drawbacks. For one, due to their location in residential spaces, they can often be a nuisance to students in their rooms who are trying to sleep. Loud music can often be heard late into the night, emanating from parties hosted in residential halls. Additionally, these parties often wreak havoc upon the residential environments they are located in. Hordes of drunk students gush into residential areas, leave the lounges a mess, and disappear into the night. Since these spaces don’t have the cleaning supplies that traditional party spaces such as Paces have, students hosting parties in such locations often don’t clean up after themselves and the task is unjustly left to EVS. Finally, since students do not have universal access to dorms, it is difficult to host parties that are open to all students on campus in residential halls. Running to open the door every few minutes is no fun.

The college plans to renovate the current Sharples building to create a student commons space. With any luck, this renovation will offer a variety of spaces for students to host parties. Unfortunately, phase two of the renovations are not expected to be complete until Fall 2023, according to Andrew Feick in his April 13, 2022, email. “The renovation [will make] Sharples Dining Hall into a community commons that will support an array of student services, including the Office of Student Engagement as well as student clubs and social spaces,” Feick wrote. 

Until then, there is an urgent need to open up more party spaces on campus. We can begin by opening up Olde Club, which has not been open since COVID began. Olde Club, located next to the WRC, was a popular party space, especially for less mainstream events. It is a good, cozy size and has excellent ambiance and good acoustics. Members of the Editorial Board have heard from OSE that Olde Club is not open because it is in an unsafe, dilapidated condition. Olde Club has been in this condition for eons, and it does not seem that there currently are any plans to renovate it. It is instead currently being used as a storage space. 

Opening up Olde Club will provide a much needed additional party space on campus. Allowing parties to resume in Olde Club will split the party-going crowd between Paces and Olde Club and offer a much needed relief to Paces’s overcrowding. Additionally, it will allow for more diverse party offerings. Thus we, The Phoenix, ask the college to move ahead with plans to renovate Olde Club so that it can be reopened, and to look into opening up other spaces around campus for use as party spaces. 

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