As renovations begin on Campus Club, the eating club that closed two years ago, recently hired club director Dianne Spatafore has begun to prepare for the opening of yet another center for student life on a campus that already has a student center and six residential colleges.
Spatafore will spend this year overseeing the club's renovation as well as planning the club's policies and calendar in conjunction with a soon-to-be-appointed student advisory board of 12 undergraduates and six graduate students. The advisory board will play an active role in running Campus in accordance with its motto: "For students, by students."
"I will work in an advisory capacity," Spatafore said, adding that she is looking forward to working in conjunction with the student board. "I'll be helping to keep the board on track and to focus them on certain tasks, but, hopefully, the students will make most of the decisions about what the club will really be like."
Indeed, students have had a say in the club's future even before Spatafore took command of the project. A student committee interviewed candidates for the position of club director and offered input throughout the process, which eventually led to Spatafore's hiring.
In spite of the active participation of students in reforming the club for its eventual reopening, Spatafore said that she anticipates the biggest challenge in opening Campus will be attracting students to come to the club for the first time.
"Once we get them through the doors, they'll see everything going on there and what a nice space is it is, and I don't think we'll have trouble getting them to come back," Spatafore said.
As the former director of student activities and campus center at Merrimack College, Spatafore managed the opening of a renovated 170,000 sq. ft. campus center. She has also worked as director for student activities at the now-closed Notre Dame College in Manchester, N.H., where she coordinated campus events and managed the school campus center.
"When we were interviewing people, we were particularly interested in [Spatafore's] experience with launching a new facility [at Merrimack]," said Thomas Dunne, associate dean of undergraduate students.
"One thing I think was really fantastic was bringing a director on campus a year before the club's opening," he added. "This way she'll have an opportunity to really become familiar with the campus environment and understand what works well here and what kinds of social space would be most effective at Princeton."
Both Spatafore and Dunne stressed the importance of Campus as a place for undergraduate and graduate students to interact. Dunne said that though there are a number of places on campus where that type of opportunity is "implicit," Campus will be one of the first which will be "explicitly" geared towards both graduate and undergraduate students.
For instance, Dunne said, while it is possible for graduate students to get involved with primarily undergraduate organizations like Whig-Clio, it requires real effort and initiative on the part of the graduate students. At Campus, both undergraduate and graduate students will be involved in the planning and running of the club from the beginning.
"I think [Campus] will especially foster graduate-undergraduate interaction because of its scale and feel. It feels like a family home; I'm sure it will be a really fertile environment for interaction," Dunne said of the 11,000 sq. ft. building, calling it an "eating club for everybody."
Campus, in addition to serving as social and study space, will host several events sponsored by student groups. Dunne said he had already been contacted by 15 to 20 groups about holding events there, though it is not yet possible to reserve the space for next year.
Spatafore said she hopes student groups will be able to start scheduling events this spring for fall 2008.
"We want to have things scheduled already, as soon as it opens," she said. "That way we can start in immediately and make its presence known on campus right away."
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