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Plans for Frist Health Center prompt calls for graduate student center

Trees are outside a brick building with a dark blue door.
McCosh Health Center.
Angel Kuo / The Daily Princetonian

Plans to move University Health Services from McCosh Health Center to the still-unbuilt Frist Health Center has led to speculation about what will occupy the vacant space. While the University has yet to announce an official plan for McCosh, students have speculated on possible uses for the site. Graduate students have shown particular interest in the building, citing a current lack of designated campus spaces for graduate students.

In November 2023, the University announced a plan to replace McCosh Health Center following a “major gift” from Dr. Thomas Frist Jr. Construction of the new facility is expected to be completed in 2025.


In an interview with The Daily Princetonian, Amari Tankard GS, the president of the Graduate Student Government (GSG), said that the GSG talked with the administration about a graduate student center back in 2019, but, since then, talks have stalled. She cited the decentralization of graduate student spaces and lack of easy access to meals as the main issues leading to these desires for a dedicated space for graduate students. 

Tankard compared the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) office space in Frist Campus Center to the GSG office in the basement of Campus Club. She said the GSG space frequently has accessibility and sanitation issues. 

She added that the facilities workers at Campus Club use the GSG office as their lunch room. “I’ve had meetings in there where they're just sitting on the other side of the table eating lunch …  It’s a hot mess.” Tankard also said that there were sometimes mice in the office.

Tankard shared that she complained to the head of Facilities at Campus Club and the former Assistant Dean for Student Affairs but nothing was done to address the issues.

“When the University is made aware of concerns by GSG, we work to quickly address those concerns and will continue to do so,” University Spokesperson Michael Hotchkiss wrote in an email to the ‘Prince.’

Two other graduate students also spoke to the ‘Prince’ in an interview, expressing their support for a graduate student center. David Whyman GS mentioned how “the undergrads and grads are people at different stages in their life,” and that it would be better to have a specific space for graduate students.


Rose Guingrich GS echoed these sentiments and shared that “Frist student center doesn't seem very grad student-oriented.” Guingrich and Whyman both hope to have a space for offices and meetings, and cited the lack of permanent office spaces in certain departments and social areas to build community. 

While originally conceived as a space for the entire student body and faculty, Frist Campus Center is known today as a hub for undergraduate students. The center hosts the USG office, McGraw Learning Center, Frist Theater, cafés, and several other gathering spaces for student activities. Frist also draws in students on the unlimited meal plan, largely underclassmen, for late meal.

Tankard echoed many similar desires along with spaces such as “cafés, convention centers, perhaps even like a large room for speaker events [and] a playroom for children [of graduate students].” 

She adds that grad students who are on campus “24 hours a day” have very few spaces to eat which she says is especially difficult because graduate students live far off-campus. 

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Last spring, Princeton Graduate Student United (PGSU) cited affordable housing deficiencies as a major issue for graduate students. With the cost of living in Princeton being increasingly inaccessible, many graduate students have been forced to find accommodations in surrounding areas.

Anthony Taboni, a graduate student in the politics department, claimed in an interview with the ‘Prince’ last spring that he and his partner searched for four months, offering six months of rent upfront, and adding his mother as a co-signer, to no avail. He claimed that he reached out to the housing office, but their suggestions were not feasible. In the end, Taboni wound up renting a one-bedroom apartment in nearby Plainsboro, N.J., for $2,000 per month.

At Harvard University, Tankard explained, her colleagues have a different experience with individual offices, a convention space, and a conference room. 

Tankard expressed that she felt these differences in treatment “[speak] to what is important to the school at the time, and I wish that we had a little more of an important space to be in.”

While “the Graduate School supports the idea of a Graduate Student Center and is continuing to collaborate with the GSG and other partners to explore future options,” University Spokesperson Jennifer Morrill wrote in an email to the 'Prince' that the University “will consider the viability of a wide range of potential uses.” 

Another idea students have proposed for the space is a campus pub. At a USG meeting last fall, former USG president Stephen Daniels ’24 named McCosh Health Center as a potential location for a pub. 

“Because we are still in the planning phase, any locations for the potential events are still being determined,” he wrote in an email to the ‘Prince’ at the time.

As of now, it remains unclear whether these wishes will be granted. Morrill added that future plans for McCosh Health Center have not been initiated yet.

Claire Meng is a contributing News writer for the ‘Prince.’

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