Two weeks after President Barbara R. Snyder dedicated the Tinkham Veale University Center, the glitz and glamour have worn off.
We are hoping our first impression will prove misleading, but unfortunately, “the Tink” appears to prioritize aesthetics over functionality. The university center is a beautiful building, surely an exclamation point made for brochures, but we remain unconvinced it will have a strong impact on fostering the university community, which is what it’s meant to do.
The problems begin with lunch. The setup of the university center has made the simple meal a source of division among students, instead of a community building opportunity.
Despite boasting a strong lineup which includes Melt University, a smaller version of the Cleveland-based grilled cheese restaurants; Naan, a modern infusion of classic Indian food; 8twenty6, a vegetarian option; Pinzas, a pizza option; and Cool Beanz, a coffee and refreshment station, most of the campus won’t be eating at the Tink since none of the eateries accept meal swipes, a frustrating fact considering Bon Appétit, the campus dining management company, runs each station.
The problems continue with the politics of space and its availability. The ballroom remains closed during the day when not being used for an event. Additionally, students are required to pay a $75 per hour rate to use the otherwise wasted space. Students should not be priced out of using campus resources.
And what is the purpose of the super expensive Xbox Kinect screen? It’s a fun toy, but how does the university benefit? Surely the novelty will wear off in the coming weeks. Donation money could have been better spent somewhere else. It’s for nothing more than for show.
Furthermore, at first blush, it seems that more needed space for student organizations was added to campus through the Tink, but this is not necessarily true. Considering a number of meeting spaces in Thwing have become classrooms, there wasn’t much of a net gain in room for student groups, if any. Sure the Tink is a cool place to hang out, but we hope the university finds ways to use the space to strengthen our community.
The Tink is an impressive structure. Students have more room to study and come together, but choices regarding building usage, equipment, pricing and meal swipes have made the space unwelcoming. The Tink would become an infinitely better building if the campus officials had put a sharper focus on the entire campus community. Offering meal swipe options and sponsoring more all-campus events would fulfill the mission its name implies, rendering it a center of university happenings. Currently, the setup does little to foster community, and it doesn’t earn its title of a “university center.”