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I don’t know how many times one can revisit a topic before it collapses under the weight of words, but today’s announcement by President Liebowitz that accepted the Budget Oversight Committee’s recommendation that 51 Main continue—under significant qualifications—has brought me back to this subject one last time.  I believe strongly in the mission of 51 Main and think the campus and town need the kind of cosmopolitan atmosphere that the venue is trying to foster.  Yet “need” is a relative concept that finally has to be measured by the number of people, especially students, who choose go to 51 Main for food, conversation, drinks, entertainment, or whatever.  So vision must now yield to reality.

I’ve included a copy of President Liebowitz’s email to the community below, and can say as a member of BOC that this outcome was the result of intensive discussion and compromise.  For a number of reasons, 51 Main has become a lightning rod for the current fiscal situation, town/gown relations, administrative initiatives, and student social life.  This convergence of factors makes 51 Main a worthy topic for anyone interested in the cultural politics of small-town life and academia.  But most importantly, 51 Main is now in the hands of the people who are meant to enjoy it.   I look forward to following its progress.

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To the Middlebury campus community,

The Budget Oversight Committee (BOC) has recommended to keep the student activity space at 51 Main Street open until we review its operation again in December of this year, and I have accepted its recommendation.

The BOC proposal requires that 51 Main demonstrate that it has a viable business plan and can operate without a subsidy from the College.  In addition, under this plan, 51 Main needs to record two consecutive months of profitability between now and December.  If it is not able to meet this goal, the College will close 51 Main.

Toward that end, 51 Main will extend its operating hours and begin advertising immediately, which is why I am announcing this decision now instead of waiting until the next round of BOC recommendations are completed.

51 Main has proven itself to be a valuable social alternative for a mix of students, faculty, staff, and townspeople.  It is funded by a donor who specifically wishes to support social life at Middlebury, and with this support, giving the project more time to prove itself seems worthwhile.

Ron

3 Responses to “51 Main Redux Again”

  1. […] finally figure out its niche and purpose at a school where we can bring our complaints directly to administrators who take time to sit down with students. The barrier between administrators and students at this […]

  2. […]  http://sites.middlebury.edu/onedeansview/2009/02/19/51-main-redux-again […]

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