In less than a year, an idea first floated by former University President Woodrow Wilson 1879 that has spent much of the last century on Princeton's back-burner will evolve from a mass of scaffolding, mud and concrete into the Frist Campus Center.
Now that construction has progressed into its final stages, administrators and students alike are speculating about how the center will affect their daily lives when it opens next fall.
Tom Dunne, assistant dean of undergraduate students, said he believes the center will provide a public space for the entire student body and faculty to interact and "will contribute largely to the social fabric of the community."
USG president-elect PJ Kim '01 said the center's variety of dining options and large social and academic space will enhance social life on campus.
"The campus center is a mammoth project that will provide for the University's academic, social and administrative needs," Kim said. "It will augment and broaden our social experience because a wide variety of people will be using it."
The center will be able to cater to a wide range of student interests because of the large number of functions it will perform, according to Dunne. He said some of the center's facilities include permanent office spaces, locker space and private meeting rooms for student organizations.
Range of interests
The campus center's director, Paul Breitman – who previously served as director of Rutgers University's campus center – said he believes the Frist center will have a positive effect on student life.
Breitman said the campus center will be able to accommodate the University's need to expand and that he wants to "talk to students and faculty alike to best serve their needs."
While the campus center's dining options – ranging from pizza to sushi – might be seen as in competition with the eating clubs, Dunne said he did not believe the campus center would act as a replacement for the social options on Prospect Avenue.
"We don't want it to have an adversarial effect," Dunne said, noting that the center will only provide more choices for students when deciding where they want to eat.
"I don't think the student center will impact the clubs at all," Dunne said, adding that most of the activity on the 'Street' takes place later at night, and the campus center should be closed at these times.
When the Frist center opens next fall, Princeton will join a number of other Ivy League schools that already have student centers.
For example, Columbia University opened its Alfred Lerner Student Center this fall. The facility has many amenities similar to those planned for the Frist Center, and in addition boasts undergraduate mailboxes and an area large enough to host a concert.