The student center is the core of most college campuses, a building overemphasized on the tour as the heart of the campus, with students flowing in and out constantly, pumping out activities and information to the entire community. Yesterday, I started wondering what role Middlebury’s own student center serves… How many times a day am I in McCullough? Who else is usually around? What happens there?
McCullough lies at the center of campus, directly between many of my classes and my dormitory. Last Wednesday I stopped by the mail center to look for letters or care packages (and got a paycheck too!). I then immediately spent a part of that paycheck buying tickets to our spring concert, Wale (one of my suitemates is the chair of the Middlebury College Activities Board (MCAB) Concerts Committee and was in charge of booking him) and tickets to Stopkiss, a play that my other suitemates are directing and starring in as part of their senior work, at the Middlebury Ticket Office.
On the way out, I glanced up at the Honor Code signatures on the wall. Upon matriculation, every Middlebury student signs an agreement pledging to submit only original work with proper citations and to maintain integrity in all aspects of academic life. I flashed back to the day we signed the pledge, when hundreds of freshmen squeezed into McCullough to meet with the deans and to assume responsibility of our college lives. The pledge brings a unique atmosphere to Middlebury: tests are unproctored, and closed-note take-home exams are common. As a result, students work for personal achievement rather than in direct competition with their peers.
Later on in the night, I returned for Trivia Night at Crossroads Café. The Café is a student run business that serves healthy food options including Asian noodles, frozen yogurt, fresh fruit, coffees, and smoothies. The Café’s stage hosts student musical performances, poetry readings, trivia nights, lectures, and community discussions on a regular basis. I grabbed a table downstairs while my friends ran upstairs to the Grille to order food. They returned a few minutes later with a Dr. Feelgood (a grilled cheese with chicken tenders inside) and a Heart Attack (fries smothered in cheese, bacon, chicken tenders, bbq sauce etc.) for the group to split. The room quickly filled with about a hundred students hunched over in groups trying to identify a man (Nicolae Ceauşescu) from his photo. A few hours later, as Trivia Night came to a close, I swung by MiddExpress (the on-campus convenience store in McCullough) to restock on tape and notebook paper before heading home with my suitemates.
As I reflect on the number of things I did in McCullough over the course of a single day, I’ve realized that I’ve been underestimating the Student Center all these years. McCullough may not be the only center of student life on campus, but it is definitely an essential part of daily life for MiddKids.