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Where the Action Is

The college’s four-year-old Campus Center has become the social nerve center of the Smith community, says a new survey by a School for Social Work student.

Using Geographic Information Services (GIS) technology, Stephanie Keep, a master of social work candidate and a Smith ’02 graduate in psychology, found that the Campus Center is the most popular spot for Smith students to meet their friends, grab a snack, find a quiet space and visit with friends and family. For her master’s thesis, she gauged student perceptions of the Smith campus both before and after the 2003 opening of the center, which houses a café, post office, student mailboxes, campus bookstore, lounge space, art gallery, pub, meeting space and offices.

The most significant change between the first survey responses in 2002 and the second, in 2005, was the students’ wholesale shift of activities from a variety of campus locations to the single structure.

“The Campus Center had become a hub for informal and formal socializing, an emblem of campus pride and a meeting place outside of dorms,” says Keep of the feedback she received from nearly 500 students.

In the earlier survey, students noted that the former student center, the Davis Center, was where they went for a snack outside of their residences and where they typically hung out with friends. Afterward, the Campus Center replaced Davis Center as the preferred spot for those pastimes.

Between the first and second surveys, Keep also found a change in the number of students who believed there were places on campus they could “hang out”—about twice as many after the Campus Center as before.

Located on Elm Street adjacent to John M. Greene Hall and open onto the campus green, the 56,000-square-foot building was designed by New York architects Weiss/Manfredi. Supporting the construction was a generous gift of $2.35 million from the late Julia Child ’34, renowned cookbook author and television personality.

Visit the Campus Center Web site at www.smith.edu/campuscenter.

According to a new survey, the Smith Campus Center is the most popular spot for students as a place for informal and formal socializing, as well as a source of campus pride. Photo by Jim Gipe.

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