Due to a lack of recreational planning, TU students may have difficulties finding public social spaces during the weekends.
Picture this: it’s a Saturday afternoon and you have just finished all your homework for the day. So you decide to go out. Maybe you don’t have a car, or maybe you just want to save money on gas, but you decide to stay on campus and see what’s up. Walking through campus, you wouldn’t realize that 4,682 students attend the school. In fact, the campus feels more like a ghost town than anything. This has been my experience at TU. As someone who doesn’t participate in Greek life and therefore doesn’t have the built-in social cache, I have often struggled with the fact that on the weekends, TU campus culture doesn’t exist.
One of the issues with TU is the fact that there is no centralized location for recreation. The closest we have to such a space would probably be ACAC (The Hut, specifically). However, ACAC feels more like a mall rather than a space for students to study and talk. Additionally, there is only so much accessibility during the weekends, since only The Hut and Subway are open. One can only assume that this is due to operating costs, but it can feel nigh impossible to socialize on a weekend when there is no neutral territory to meet with people.
Another issue regarding campus culture on the weekends is that there is no programming. I suppose this is once again due to operating costs, but while I have no free time to attend events on campus during the week, my weekends tend to be much freer.
A remedy to this that TU is in dire need of is access to social study spaces, a sort of in-between to the reading rooms in McFarlin and the hub of ACAC. Oral Roberts University, a local school not too far from TU, has a space that meets the bill. With quiet rooms for study, lounging areas and video games, the Armand Hammer center (a.k.a. “The Hammer”) is a great example of what a space could look like. By having a space dedicated solely to socializing and connecting, TU would be fostering an environment that would naturally lean towards community. This is a case that I have seen in only one place on campus, and that is Fisher South.
Fisher South is a work of genius in its architecture. It’s designed in such a way that maximizes the amount of interactions students have with each other and is set up so that students have easy access to these social spaces. We need more spaces like Fisher South. When I was living in Lottie Jane, I only really met two people in my dorm. We are now roommates.
Another, and perhaps more feasible solution, is to invest in a coffee shop. Like, a real coffee shop. The cafe in McFarlin is all right to grab and go, but I still yearn for a place in which to study, meet with friends and just hang out.
TU has a lot going for it: academics are top notch, and the professors really care for their students, but socially, it can be a challenge to navigate. With more weekend geared events and dedicated social spaces, TU could grow into being lively on both the weekdays and on the weekends.