BLC construction displaces some student clubs

by Jess Scanlon

Nearly four months into the project to expand the BLC Theater, many student clubs and organizations on campus are struggling to find alternative meeting places.

Continuing construction on the BLC Theater leaves clubs like the Rider Dance Ensemble struggling to find space for events.

For example, the unavailability of the theater is problematic for the Rider Dance Ensemble, a new club on campus that plans to hold a show during the spring semester.

“We need a stage [to practice],” said Kathryn McCambley, a senior graphic design major with a dance minor who serves as the vice president of the organization. “For the spring show, the only two days available were a Tuesday and a Wednesday.”

McCambley said the BLC Theater was a good place for them to rehearse and it had always been a standby when the Yvonne and the Spitz theaters were booked. The construction, however, has forced many clubs and events to move to those locations, creating more competition for them.

The current renovations include the expansion of the stage from its current size of 19 feet to 36 feet, the addition of extra spaces for backstage work and an upgrade of the sound and lighting systems. The building will also utilize sustainable practices similar to those employed in the LEED Silver Certified Academic building. In the meantime, however, replacement venues need to be found for events and club activities that usually depend on the theater space.

“In general, for information sessions and lectures, we look for alternate spaces that translate,” said Nick Barbati, coordinator of campus activities for the Office of Campus Life. “The Yvonne Theater, for example, directly translates into a fixed-seating environment.”

Although the scheduled completion date of the 11,000-square-foot expansion is Aug. 1, 2011, the 15-month project seems to be dragging for some at Rider.

The construction is scheduled to be finished in August 2011 and “will be a wonderful addition,” according to Nick Barbati.

The difficulty of accommodating some events and the decreased activity in the building are two of the drawbacks as seen by senior Leandra Perez-Fraticelli, BLC desk manager. She said that the construction makes the building “look unattractive.”

Other students accept that it will take time for the new addition to be completed and recognize that it is steadily progressing.

“It looks like it is on schedule,” said junior Christopher McDonald, who has construction work experience.

Still, the project is 10 months from completion. In the meantime, students also have to deal with the loss of the sidewalk that has forced many students to walk in the roads to reach their cars.

“I spent the summer walking in the street,” said senior Daniel Natter, who took a chemistry course over the summer when the project was just beginning. “It’s safer since they built the crosswalk.”

In addition to displacing students because of the lack of a sidewalk, events ranging from the Green Film Series to many Student Entertainment Council events have been moved to other locations, including the Yvonne Theater, the Spitz Theater, Sweigart Auditorium, the Student Recreation Center and the Cavalla Room in the BLC.

“I’m very excited for the room,” Barbati said of the expansion project. “In the long run, it will be a wonderful addition to the resources available at the university.”

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