51 Main has been open since last May, providing a social alternative for a mix of students, faculty, staff, and townspeople. The venue is open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights for drinks, food, and entertainment. Recently they’ve begun to host special events on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. This Tuesday, for instance, President Emeritus John McCardell gave a presentation on the drinking age.
51 Main appears to be filling a niche, but given the current fiscal situation, the establishment may be a program that the College should reassess. Although revenues are on the rise, the establishment does operate at a deficit, which is covered by a gift that the College received from a donor. The gift is restricted, which in this case means that the funds must be used to support student social life. On this point, it’s worth noting that the idea for 51 Main—and the occasion for the gift—came from an all-student task force that spent much of the 2006-2007 year brainstorming ways to improve social life on campus. So the funding for the venue is targeted. However, we could go back to the donor, and ask that he redefine the terms of the gift so that it can be used for other purposes. If we were able to redirect the gift, the money would then be put toward general budget relief.
President Liebowitz and I are willing to pursue this option, but not without first hearing from students. Is 51 Main succeeding? Should the College support its continued development?
We want to use this blog as a forum for soliciting student input on this matter. So offer your comments—anonymously, if you like—and please let us know what you think. Is 51 Main is worth keeping?