We (don’t) need some space

Hamline cannot expect to grow if it doesn’t use what it already has.

Hanna Bubser, Columnist

“I need space.” Arguably, this is the most stereotypical break up excuse in existence, pulled straight from the heart wrenching scenes of your favorite rom-com. Frankly, space can be beneficial. It can make way for clearer minds, improved attitudes and better outlooks. That is all well and good, but then what happens if you have too much space?

Hamline University happens to know a thing or two about this phenomenon. Earlier this fall, I started a new job at the Hamline University Undergraduate Admissions office as a tour guide. Because of this, I have been able to get up close and personal with our campus. I have gained so much from this experience, and it has also given me new perspectives on certain aspects of our school that I haven’t necessarily thought about before. The biggest realization for me has been about space. Namely, unused space.

Think, for a moment, about the infrequent utilization of the Bush Student Center Ballroom or the loneliness of what once was the Law Library. I will admit, I was happy leaving school last semester knowing that Safety and Security was moving to Bush and The School of Education would find a new home in West Hall, but I still believe that Hamline has a ways to go in taking full advantage of campus buildings. One particular spot that has always bothered me is the old cafeteria in Sorin Hall. This rather roomy area is used about once a year when it’s time to roll out textbooks to incoming undergrads. After that, it’s locked up and stays mostly unused. Honestly, what kind of sense does that make?

I know that there is much more that goes into this matter than meets the eye, but sometimes it feels as though part of our tuition just goes to keeping the lights on in half-used buildings. The resolution to this frustration is complicated, and it requires time and collaboration more than anything else. Circling back to the subject of the School of Education, it was a smart choice made by Hamline to move them out of Drew Residence Hall and into West Hall. Having this office in a more central location on campus simply makes more sense.

Then there is the problem, though, of the newly freed up space in Drew. How long will that sit empty? Often times, spaces like these on campus end up as bloated long-term storage facilities, so what could go there that would use it in the best possible way?

It’s like a game of Jenga. You pull one block out, but then there’s a hole left in its place. A space, if you will. If you and the other players of the game are careless, then the whole tower comes tumbling down. If Hamline continues to shuffle around in this hap-hazard way, then the campus will be left in a tipped over pile of blocks. There is no doubt that Hamline will want to expand in the future. Our first-year class this fall has proved that more and more people are filing in. But what will this mean for the buildings that already exist?

I fear that we will end up with with mostly empty, possibly forgotten places in favor of something new and shiny. Hamline does not need new space. Hamline needs the input of faculty, students and even community members on how we can use all the great spaces that we already have.