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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Empty space in Village dorms still used for storage

Published: October 2, 2009
Section: News

<i>PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot</i>

PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot

Across from the Village gym, there is a large 1000 square foot room.

The walls and door are glass, but the inside is not visible due to the tan butcher paper covering them. The butcher paper is torn in one corner of the door, but even someone peering through would see only darkness.

The space in the Village has been more or less empty since the Village Dorms opened in August 2002.

The only serious consideration of a use for the room was in 2008 when the university planned to open Ollie’s Eatery in the space, but then had to move the late night diner’s location to The Stein due to Village ventilation problems.

Currently, and since the building’s construction, the space is nothing more than a shell. There is no plumbing, no lights, and no accessible bathrooms.

According to Vice President of Campus Operations Mark Collins, it would cost about $50,000 just to add sheetrock walls and electricity.

The administration has considered using the space for everything from a student storage space to a studio for BTV.

As of right now, and for the foreseeable future, it is used as a storage space for extra filters for the ventilation systems found around campus, especially in academic buildings and administration buildings, as well as other assorted items.

The idea for another place to eat on campus came from the administration, including Dean of Student Life Rick Sawyer and Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment Jean Eddy in fall of 2008.

At that time, the only places on campus to get food were found on Upper Camus or Lower Campus, leaving the students in what is informally called South Campus (Ziv Quad, Ridgewood, and the Village) with a long trek uphill to buy food.

But before plans were made, the administration realized that the ventilation system needed was both extensive and expensive. According to Collins, new ventilation would have raised the cost of the project by nearly $100,000. It just didn’t seem like the “best way to spend the money at the time,” he said.

Because Ollie’s would have been in the basement of the dorm, the ventilation couldn’t go out, it had to go up, through five floors of Village dorms.

The Stein, on the other hand, was already outfitted with a kitchen, plenty of seating, and the proper ventilation.

Other factors also went into the decision to move Ollie’s into the Stein.

“The Village, it’s really a residence hall,” Collins said. “Students are sleeping, studying, et cetera. Did it make sense to have music and loud noise late at night?”

Also, because the space in the Village is so small, no more than around 20 students would have been able to hang out in there at one time.

The move was a “no brainer” and a “win-win,” Collins said. Students living in the Village wouldn’t have to deal with a loud, disruptive ventilation system, and students all over campus would be able to gather in a common space late at night without disrupting their sleeping and studying peers.

The Student Union published an article on their website in January of 2008 announcing that although Ollie’s Eatery would be opening in the Stein, the Student Union was working with the administration to continue the construction in the Village. For now, the space remains empty.

Currently, Ollie’s is open in the Stein from 10 PM to 3 AM Thursday through Sunday.