Wednesday, March 26, 2008

More Community, with Creativity

SGA Legislator Josh Swanner first brought up the idea of renaming South Campus Commons buildings with names of Muppet or Sesame Street characters. As of right now, a meeting with Department of Resident Life Associate Director for South Campus Cindy Felice and Director of Residential Facilities Jon Dooley yielded a denial of the proposal and a recommendation that Swanner compile a list of Maryland's most populous, non-governmental cities, by county, and include with it a list of state symbols. Swanner plans to meet with Felice and Dooley again soon to present this list.

Thank goodness for a little creativity. Too bad it's been diluted. Swanner is exactly right: numbered buildings are boring. While I'm not particularly partial to naming Commons 1 after Cookie Monster, I certainly would prefer that to calling it "The Aberdeen Building." But this state symbol idea has some merit. Oriole (state bird) Place? Skipjack (state boat) Hall? Or even "The Joust" (state sport)? Everyone would want to live there. I think these ideas get at what Swanner is talking about - add a little sense of community, a little fun, and the symbols are relevant to Maryland.

Concerns about whether or not new names will stick are understandable, but I think unfounded. Students are already calling our (the class of 2009, and maybe 2010, and older) beloved CRC by its new, official name, the ERC (Eppley Recreation Center).

Again, Swanner's brought up a cool community-building-centered conversation, but I think there's a more obvious place to start: South Campus Dining Hall. That's about as bland as you can get, as bad as or worse than naming Commons buildings with numbers. I think we should name SCDH after Pat Higgins, former Dining Services Director, who served UMD Dining for nearly half a century.

A sense of community is important to the thriving of any community, but this sense is especially important at a large, diverse university. Renaming Commons won't solve all our problems, but it can't hurt. Let's do this, and do it a little differently.

Posted by: Sumner Handy

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