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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Students to vote on empty Kalman space

Published: April 23, 2010
Section: News

Provost Marty Krauss and Chief Operating Officer Jeff Apfel this week began a survey of the student body to determine what to do with new space left from the demolition of the Kalman building as part of the third phase of the university’s Science Complex Renewal Project.

“The proposal for alternate space ideas has been six years in the making because [Kalman] was no longer a reasonable building,” Krauss said, noting that the university has an upgraded science center. “With the demolition there is a new open space and now the issue is how to make best use of that space.”

The options include a “four-season garden” with plants to represent each time of the year that would serve as a recreation area; four sand volleyball courts; and a hybrid of the two options with two volleyball courts.

The cost of the potential project would depend on what will fill the space. Students can submit votes at the Brandeis website under the Office of Capital Projects.

“It is slightly more costly to put in a planted area than to have a sand volleyball court of equal size,” Vice President for Capital Projects Dan Feldman wrote in an e-mail to The Hoot. “The hybrid model would cost a bit more than courts alone, but the voting so far appears to not be very favorable toward the idea of courts only.”

The possibility of a vote and student involvement led to a campus-wide e-mail from Union President Andy Hogan ’11 asking for student input on the decision. However, Hogan said in an interview with The Hoot that the Union will not be involved in the process and he did not know how impactful the outcome of the students’ votes would be.

If the current voting trend holds, at least some form of garden, either by itself or with some courts, would be the student choice.

“The voting will be an important factor as we work to reach a decision,” Feldman wrote. “Clearly there are considerations that have to be put at the highest priority level—the fire access road, and some handicap and visitor parking. But beyond that, we are listening carefully to what people say they want.”

Krauss indicated that the vote would be meaningful because students, as well as other members of the Brandeis community, would be the ones using the possible space, whether garden or volleyball courts.

“We’re thinking about who’s going to use this space, and it’s going to be students, faculty and staff, so we have to have input from everyone,” she said.

But Feldman said a vote was chosen because “we wanted to find a way for members of the community to share their thoughts without formally convening a new group.”

While a vote will be determinant of students who happen to submit it, it was decided to be better administratively for the subject matter that is meant to be “in terms of scope, limited discussion.”

“An online presentation and poll seemed to be a great way to achieve those goals. The phenomenal ‘turnout’ in the voting seems to bear out the idea that this can be an effective way to get community input on matters like this,” he wrote.