What would you consider the social hub of Lewis & Clark? Is it Templeton, with its confusing hallways and awkwardly placed seating? Is it Watzek, with its homey bookish aura but its undeniably academic persona? Maybe Maggie’s, far as it is from academic campus and inconvenient as it is for anyone who lives off campus?
The truth is, LC does not have a central “student hub” space like so many other colleges. There are areas on campus where students can gather, both formally and informally. Perhaps the Dovecote does something to fill that void; maybe the library or the steps outside Howard are the social scene of an academic. But there is no place that I would go to collapse on a couch between classes, nowhere I would expect to be comfortingly bustling with friends and acquaintances. The truth is, it is hard to picture such a place being successful. Everyone knows the stereotypical LC greeting: a quick glance towards the ground, as if praying that one has not been seen. Maybe I am one of those people; I cannot imagine myself going voluntarily to that sort of space, overrun as it would surely be by the type of loud, extroverted people that I would prefer to avoid in my downtime.
This is a campus in which it can be difficult to find a sense of community. It would be nice to have a place that was more comfortable and welcoming for relaxing than for finishing one’s homework, especially for underclassmen living on campus. Nevertheless, this lack of a physical community space does not necessarily mean there is a lack of community.
I think the idea that LC is inherently antisocial is actually just a misinterpretation of the fact that, at first, it can be difficult to find your crowd here, and that these crowds do not typically congregate in public spaces on campus. I spent my first year always walking around between dorm rooms of people I barely knew, frantic to find people I could call my friends. I was looking, and I did not know where to find them. Now, three years later, I realize that my friends are the people I see everyday; they are in my classes, they are where I work, they are the people who care so passionately about the same things I do and work so hard towards the same goals.
LC is a place where people work hard and are passionate. It’s a place where people spend most of their time doing work, and where a relaxed, sit-on-the-couch vibe is not necessarily valued. Our campus reflects those values, with an abundance of space dedicated to work and focus and little dedicated to downtime.
Maybe what we need is not a social space. Would it have its moments of convenience? Probably. But I think that the way most people on this campus find their friends is much like I have, and I think we find our own ways of coping, our own places to spend time, our own adventures.