The James P. Muldoon River Center is now available to the St. Mary’s community everyday from 5 to 11 p.m.
Starting on Sept. 12, the pilot program has and will continue to allow reserved space for student or faculty events and study hall. On Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings, the River Center will be utilized by campus groups hosting special events, and students are welcome to use the River Center as a study space on Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights.
Last fall, President Joseph Urgo’s cabinet assembled a taskforce that met several times over the course of last year to decide how to make better use of the building. In the three years of the River Center’s existence, Assistant Dean of Students Kelly Schroeder and a member of the taskforce, noticed that students were not using the building as much as they could be.
“I think some students perceived the River Center as only being available to certain groups such as the sailing team, and I wanted to make it more accessible to the whole student body,” Schroeder said. What started as a request to open the River Center to students during final exams week turned into the creation of the taskforce.
Schroeder also wanted to open up more jobs for students, and extending the hours of the River Center while the waterfront office is closed would mean that someone would be needed to supervise the building during the evening hours. To make students more aware of the great space for studying and events that the River Center has to offer, Schroeder decided to host continued programming there throughout the year.
Adam Werblow, Director of the Waterfront, says that some of the concerns brought up during the deliberations was the treatment of the facility, especially after an incident that occurred three years ago in which the building was left unlocked following an event, and two televisions and other electronics were stolen.
The River Center was not designed for late-night parties that require someone to “babysit” the building, which is furnished with expensive bamboo tables. Werblow cited that messes were left after faculty speeches or receptions, which could damage such costly furniture, and says “the campus community needs to look out for the facility or it won’t be as nice.”
Assistant Director of the Waterfront Rick Loheed, who manages the River Center’s scheduling, said that the River Center had always had a large number of requests from students and faculty to use the “awesome” room on the second floor, with its great view of the sunset. The River Center’s slightly isolated location prevented some from wanting to “leave it wide open” for students to possibly do some damage late at night. However, the River Center staff stresses that the building is an open and practicable space on campus. “We work hard to be sure the facility is available for all students, and always have,” says Loheed.
According to the River Center’s facility manager Michael Kuschner, the NFL Monday Night Football party, held on the evening of Sept. 12 to kick off the River Center’s new hours, yielded a great turnout. “There were 50 to 60 people coming and going all night for the chips and guac, so it looks like there’s good support for it.”