|Faunce House Blues|
An often-heard complaint on campus is that Faunce House is a sorry excuse for a student center. After spending two days at Brown last fall, a pair of consultants agreed.
The consultants, Artie Travis, vice president for student affairs and dean of community life at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, and Tom Dunne, assistant dean for undergraduate students at Princeton, arrived in November to review the workings of the Student Activities Office (SAO). They later wrote a fifteen-page report based on their two-day visit; much of it focuses on SAO-managed Faunce House.
Travis and Dunne pointed out a variety of problems, such as poor traffic flow, a lack of programming space, and disruptive noise. They wrote that a band practicing in the building was so noisy it "completely interfered with" one of their meetings.
"In its current condition," the report states, "the building calls into question the university's commitment [to] the undergraduate student experience outside the classroom. In this regard Brown has fallen woefully behind its peer institutions."
Faunce, according to the consultants, is "just a building that students get to use when faculty and other groups" don't. They noted that the SAO has been left out of such major building decisions as the renovation of the Blue Room. If the SAO "continues to be marginalized," the consultants wrote, student-initiated activities will be stunted.
SAO director David Inman says he's been frustrated for years by the priority structure. "We shouldn't have to move a martial-arts group out for the sake of an academic conference," he says, referring to a recent instance.
The consultants encouraged the University to spend the money to make Faunce more student-friendly. Margaret Jablonski, dean for campus life, says she hopes to do just that. "Do we need to build a $20 million student union?" she asks. "I think we need to survey all the space that we already have, renovate it, and use it properly."