Suzanne Carpe ’22
At the end of the fall semester, Student Government Association (SGA) sent out an email to the entire student population, which contained a seven-question survey for preferences to transform Vernon Social into a Student Union. According to SGA President Kristina Miele ’19, the idea was “developed by Student Government” and it “consists of both short-term and long-term goals” that will turn Vernon Social into a more dynamic space for the Trinity community.
The project has already started- a food truck distributed burgers, wings, and other food in Vernon Social these past Friday and Saturday nights. Additionally, the conversation with members of SGA, Dean of Campus Life and Vice President for Student Affairs Joe DiChistina, Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer Dan Hitchell, the Student Activities, Involvement & Leadership (S.A.I.L.) Office Assistant Director Sarah Lucas, Vernon Social Unit Manager Kate Lucas ’20, and representatives of Dining Services is still an ongoing process, and the food truck will likely be only temporary. Both Miele and Dean DiChristina expressed the desire to reach a more permanent agreement with Dining Services so that food like appetizers could be catered at Vernon Social on certain days and at special events, similar to what happens on Thursday Night Trivia.
On the other hand, sophomore senator Myles Little ’21 indicated that there is currently an effort to rearrange some of the existing furniture in the building in order to provide a more social space for students. This endeavor is expected to continue in the future and be adjusted depending on future ideas or necessities. The purpose of this change is to make it “easy for groups of people to hang out, especially on the weekend,” as expressed by Miele. This will be undermined while conserving the study area available, but focusing on moving that area next to the windows instead.
Some of the most popular games according to the survey (ping-pong, air hockey, and foosball)will also make their way into Vernon Social in the coming weeks. Dean DiChristina expressed that they are “hoping to add some of these games by mid-late February.” Little also established that some of the small board games and other resources already available on campus “will also be used as much as possible.”
The proposed free community kitchen is still in consideration, since it would be the most difficult part of the plan to execute. Although only around fifty percent of the students who answered the survey voted in favor of constructing this space, members of SGA still analyzed the results as being positive. They noted that it is necessary to consider that not all students would actually make use of this kitchen, but that a small group of students, those who remained on campus during winter and summer breaks or had special eating limitations, could greatly benefit from it. For this reason, Miele was optimistic that constructing the community kitchen was one of the long-term goals that SGA hopes to achieve most likely during the next academic year.
Similarly, the last question on the survey that asked whether or not students would like to see that Vernon Social is used more frequently will probably take place somewhere in the future. Miele expressed that this specific part of the initiative would consist on extending the hours of operation, but the bar would be functioning in the same way it occasionally does now. One of the specific events that will potentially be explored is having more “happy hours” with the hopes that these opportunities will promote safe drinking rather than the reckless binge drinking that is sometimes observed around campus.
The funding for the Vernon Social revamp will likely be coming from SGA, the Dean of Students Office, and S.A.I.L. Office, but so far there are no concrete details available. So far, members of SGA have expressed nothing but excitement and commitment to be working on the project and their willingness to improve aspects of each part of it once they are established. Little described the idea as a process of “trial and error”, for which this new project has been based and improved from other similar initiatives in the past. He also added that SGA “expects to get feedback from students” and improve Vernon Social as much as they can. Dean DiChristina added that so far, all ideas “were met with enthusiasm, so it (the project) is moving in a positive direction” and will hopefully “bring more life” to campus soon. Miele finally expressed that students “will now be seeing small changes in Vernon Social, but bigger changes are coming too.”