On Thursday, March 15, the newly refurbished Grind reopened at 10pm. Clarkies seemed eager to enter the space, as the line to get in stretched out the UC door well after 10pm. Once students were admitted into the Grind, they were able to enjoy food, alcoholic beverages for of-age students, pool and foosball tables, and music performed by Clark students, such as Olivia Frances Schwartz, Asir Arif, Frances Garrett, and Zohaib Bilal. The lighting, the newly created bar called the Freudian Sip, and the various activities were part of an effort to create a space intended for socialization and relaxation.
Though the Grind clearly underwent some changes such as the inclusion of the Bar named The Freudian Sip, there is some speculation that the Grind is not that different from what it was previously, despite the $85,000 invested in the project. A Clark junior, who did not feel comfortable having his name shared, remarked that “the tables and booths … add a different vibe [that] makes it a lot more comfortable” but “it didn’t look like too much was changed.” Another Clark junior, who also preferred her name remain confidential, shared a similar opinion, maintaining the Grind is “basically the same as before but much more chaperoned and with beer and wine.” Furthermore, students did not seem interested in returning, noting the expensive prices and an interest in seeing a friend perform, not the Grind itself.
Perhaps the most concerning comment comes from another student who wishes to remain anonymous, but serves on Clark University Student Council (CUSC). They shared that many members, including himself, “heavily disapprove of the renovations,” and feel the $85,000 invested in the project are not reflected in the project. He feels “bad decisions were made with the money, leading to a postponed opening and excess money being spent on little things.” He also explained that the cost of the Grind was not readily shared, and students do not have an itemized breakdown of the costs.
Beyond CUSC, some students disagreed with the investment and expressed a desire for the money to be invested in something else. Brittany Richard, a senior at Clark, wishes the money was invested in parking for commuter students. Fion Kubani, a Clark junior, would have preferred the money go to replanting trees, providing more compost bins, and improving already existing dorms and buildings.
However, others felt positively about the financial investment. Sophia Kaplan, a sophomore at Clark, recalls seeing other college campuses and appreciating the numerous spaces they had for students to socialize. She feels this is an important thing for a college campus, and having an enjoyable social space may help attract potential students. Additionally, she believes renovating other spaces or constructing new buildings may cost just as much, if not more. Garren Kalter, a sophomore at Clark and an aspiring urban geographer, feels similarly; he asserts that “having] a third place on campus that isn’t the library or the cafeteria” is “vital.” In his opinion, the Grind is an appropriate space to renovate because of it’s “movable chairs, entertainment, food, and the main activity [being] socializing rather than eating or studying.” If the Grind is “executed properly”, he believes the space “will make the campus community much stronger.”
A lack of a social space was a concern further articulated by Eric Barrese, President of CUSC. With the help of Allie Shilling, the Director of Campus Life for Student Leadership Programming, Barrese designed the Grind, and he chairs the Ad Hoc Grind Committee, which is responsible for programming and scheduling events in the Grind. Barrese views the Grind as a place that students can “debrief, destress, and enjoy the community around them” with the added benefit of a sound system that encourages various performances. He hopes the Grind can “serve as a space students want to be in” that fosters “cross-talk among social circles on campus.” After the opening of the Grind, Barrese views the project as “successful and worth it,” but also notes the various difficulties such as the short timeline. He also believes “student input [should be] enhanced” to ensure the success of the Grind.