PEPPERDINE UNIVERSITY
4/23/2014

CartoonLANDON PHILLIPS/Assistant Art Editor

Searching for a common ground

STAFF EDITORIAL

College is not only a place for education, but it is a place to meet new people, grow as individuals and share thoughts. However, Pepperdine is missing a core element, the necessary stage for such things to take place — a student commons.

Where is the central spot on campus for students to meet and greet each other? It often feels like there have been feign, yet good attempts to create a more “outdoorsy” or “comfortable” feel in many locations around campus. Yet, not one of these places has become the prime location that students call home when they’re not in class or in their dorms. The goal is to create an environment on campus where students can lounge, talk, sleep, work or relax. 

One of our options on campus is the Cafe, with its new couches and optimized table arrangements — although everything is closed by 10 p.m. Many of the dorms have lobbies, and Lovernich even has a courtyard with a barbecue, but none of these create a central meeting location on campus for all students. Drescher is a climb, period. And the Sandbar comes close, but lacks the capacity for 24 hour use, since the Oasis closes and leaves students wanting more entertainment and food options.

Our only 24-hour center on campus is the HAWC. The HAWC is a great spot at Pepperdine, and definitely a step in the right direction toward creating a student center atmosphere; however, the campus stigma of the HAWC is it is mainly a hang-out for freshman (mostly because it’s right on dorm row and only freshmen go).  And, stigma or not, the HAWC doesn’t provide the vibe, or the necessities (good food and music) to be the campus hotspot.

  One proposition that may point in the right direction is transforming Joslyn Plaza into a center for students. Imagine the fountain outside of Elkins, as we know it today, but kicked up a notch, with heating lamps at night, 24-hour coffee stands, a sound system playing some tunes.

Our campus is too spread out to build a new place or to find an exact “central location;” however, the fountain area is already frequented on campus, and by making slight improvements and establishing it as the center, a commons could be created.

Student Government Association, Inter-club Council and Student Programming Board funds can be used to make something happen. Our $60 per person, a year, that goes toward SGA, ICC and SPB should be used for a sound system and food vendors. Furthermore, clubs, student groups, Malibu Presbyterian University Ministries, fraternities, sororities and other groups on campus could sponsor nights with free food, discussions, open mic night or dancing.

Students must take responsibility for making this dream a reality. They can voice their interest to the elected class representatives or senators. If the idea gains momentum, the class representatives or senators can then request money from either the general fund of $19,000 or the special programs fund of $12,000, according to SGA President Andy Canales.

Yes, we have the Sandbar.  Yes, we have the HAWC. We have Hero’s Garden. But students can’t go to any one of these places, at any time of the night, to find a group of students talking or just hanging out in a place they know will be lively at any hour.

Many other universities have established a student common ground without having to erect a specific building. For example, Arizona State University has the “Palm Walk” and New Mexico State University, has the “Eye Mall.” It shouldn’t make a difference on whether a university is small or big, a central meeting place is always fun and brings unity to the campus.

Perhaps Pepperdine has a fear of having a permanent “coffee” stand, a permanent stream of jazzy or punk rock tunes playing softly in the background, part of the campus that looks lived in and often used instead of eternally new and perfect. Or is it that Pepperdine imagines its students in their dorm rooms when quiet hours start at 10 p.m. and men and women cannot mingle after 2 a.m. in their student lobbies at all hours of the night?

Students need to have a place to socialize and pass time whenever they want, however they want.

At 11 p.m. the campus looks uninhabited and more like a scene from a zombie movie than that of a living, breathing, self-sustained “city” where we have a venue to share our ideas and knowledge, write our loves and hates and express our feelings and talents.

Pepperdine needs this common ground.  Too many students already exist in “ The Bubble” of Pepperdine University. Why be further isolated in program division bubbles, club bubbles, sport teams bubbles? We are a small student body that tends to be fragmented because of students being pulled in so many directions — church groups, Greek groups, athletic teams. This place can bring them together.

Students need to ask for SGA to help create this meeting place — a designated area where it is comfortable, safe and entertaining to hang out all together.