Student Center halls stay silent

Kelly Pickerel

One of Katie Hale’s platform goals as executive director was to keep the Student Center open later. But now that it’s open, students have yet to take advantage.

One of Katie Hale’s platform goals for her Undergraduate Student Senate executive director campaign was to have the Student Center open later because, she said, a majority of students wanted it.

She accomplished her mission, and Fall 2007 began with the Student Center’s hours extended to 1 a.m. during the week and 2 a.m. on weekends.

The task of bringing students to the building then fell upon members of the All Campus Programming Board.

They started work immediately, adding a late-night position to their crew and developing ideas for activities that would attract students to the building during the evening.

Now, with almost a semester in the bag, ACPB is still struggling to have students occupy the Student Center after 11 p.m. and fulfill the Senate’s plans to “Improve Our University.”

The senate’s push for later hours

“Students don’t go to bed at 11 p.m.,” Hale said. “The Student Center needed to stay open later to accommodate students’ needs.”

Having the whole Student Center open later wouldn’t be a big adjustment, she said.

“It was already open later upstairs, but the food court was closed, and there was nowhere to hang out,” Hale said, and so, she saw the need to have the lower-level open later as well.

Hale researched other universities and found Bowling Green and Ohio University had later Student Center hours. Both closed at midnight or later, so Hale thought Kent State should have the same.

“The Student Center is great because you can get dinner, study, play pool, hang out,” she said. “The Ratt downstairs has televisions. If you want to study late, use the Cyber Café — there’s comfy furniture, big tables.”

Last year, as a member of ACPB, Hale helped organize late-night events and said the group always ran into problems with the Student Center’s hours and had to shut down early.

“We did the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and there were a lot of people there,” she said. “It was a huge success, but it was really difficult to get past all the roadblocks to have something open later.”

Obviously, Hale said, students were willing to head to the Student Center for late-night activities.

“The Student Center is in the middle of campus,” she said. “It’s convenient for everyone. If they knew they could get some beer and a slice of pizza and watch the game, then they would.”

ACPB starts Club Ratt

ACPB and its new programming position had to think of ideas to draw students to the Student Center after 9 p.m.

Besides Karaoke nights and Xbox competitions, the group thought of a new idea for the Rathskeller: Club Ratt, a dance club where people can socialize and listen to music.

The club has two theme nights, Hip-Hop Fridays and Rock Saturdays.

“Just as any other club, there are bands as well as guest performers and a live DJ,” said Lamour Feagin, ACPB’s late-night and weekend programmer.

USS gave ACPB $15,000 because live bands and disc jockeys cost money, and ACPB matched that amount, so the group started with $30,000 for late-night and weekend activities for the whole year.

Feagin said a large chunk of money goes toward advertising, security, DJs, bands and sound help for Club Ratt.

“Security is definitely a very significant part of the budget as well as everything else,” he said.

Overall attendance has been low, but Feagin said that doesn’t mean the group isn’t responsibly spending the money or spending enough on advertising, as some people are suggesting.

“Club Ratt is a new program,” Feagin said, “and a lot of people don’t know about it. It won’t immediately bring in 300 people. You have to build up to that point.”

Students want more advertising

Students say a lack of advertising has led to lack of late-night attendance in the Student Center.

“Put up a flier or something,” suggested Cait Rybiski junior fashion merchandising and business administration major, who was enjoying live music in the Rathskeller during Audio Refreshments one Wednesday night along with her friend.

Jazzman’s employees Staci Allison and Meredith Scott both agreed more advertising needed to be done.

“There’s just no promotion,” said Scott, senior hospitality management major. “No one even knows we’re open later.”

Jazzman’s increased its hours from closing at 10 p.m. last year to midnight this year.

“We’re not making any money,” said Allison, senior interior design major. “We get, like, two customers from 10 p.m. on.”

Scott added the coffee shop is spending more money to keep employees there during slow times than what it’s making in profits.

“Although I like standing around doing nothing and making money,” Allison said, “I have projects that need to get done. This is taking away time for studying.”

ACPB isn’t the only organization in charge of advertising the new hours, but it is trying to get the word out there. Feagin said he has placed ads in the Daily Kent Stater, used Facebook groups and events, passed out fliers and made posters to promote Club Ratt and other ACPB sponsored activities.

Feagin said he personally sat in front of the M.A.C. Center for four hours one Wednesday, speaking through a microphone. He said he talked to the people who walked through the area, and Club Ratt attendance increased by 20 that weekend.

“No one can say that we’re not doing anything (to improve attendance),” he said. “Everyone needs to understand (the Student Center being open later) is a new thing, and it needs time to build up speed.

“People need patience. We’re not going to get changes immediately.”

Mike Musial, a bartender at the Rathskeller, said he commends ACPB for its efforts to get students to the Student Center after 9 p.m.

“It’s good that they’re trying,” he said, “but they used to do so much more 10 years ago. We aren’t going to see instant results.”

Musial has been managing the Rathskeller for most of the planned sessions of Club Ratt and said attendance has been low.

“I’m still closing up some nights around 11 p.m., just like last year,” he said. “I’ve had to send one bartender home because not enough people show up.”

Musial said he believes attendance is poor because no one sticks around campus long enough to get involved.

“We’re a go-home state university,” he said. “When people say, ‘everyone went to Columbus (for the Ohio State/Kent State football game),’ no they didn’t. They went home.”

Feagin said numbers have been improving since the first few Club Ratt sessions.

“The first night there were, like, two (people),” he said, “and the second night there were none. But, our numbers have been growing.”

The first weekend in November saw close to 70 people, Feagin said.

A near empty Cyber Café

The Cyber Café, the lounge area attached to the post office and Jazzman’s, isn’t seeing significant numbers of students either.

“On the weekends, no one is here,” said Katie Wentz, a junior art education major and late-night employee of the post office. “Some sit on the computers, but that’s about it.”

Only a few people can be found after 9 p.m. sitting in chairs throughout the lounge on weekdays.

Rosalie Simiakos, a graduate student studying art history, said she had no idea the Student Center had extended its hours during the week, but she did enjoy studying within the comfort of the lounge.

“There’s nice lamps and more ambiance than the florescent lights in the library,” she said. “The library is too sterile.”

Stefan Toler, freshman business major, and Justin Almon, freshman exploratory major, didn’t know about the later hours either, but they said they’re not the late-night studying type to take advantage of it.

“We just play pool and look for girls,” Toler said.

Dave Mason, freshman computer science major, said students should take advantage of what the Student Center has to offer.

“It’s a really strong social environment,” he said. “They’ve got pool, Club Ratt, Karaoke, an open bar with games galore behind it. You don’t have to pay to play video games or pay to play pool.”

Dave Higgins, senior applied mathematics major, said the lower-level is a great place to hang out.

“The drinks are really cheap, and there’s beanbags everywhere,” he said. “What more can you want?”

Actions speak louder than words

Although not everyone enjoys what the Student Center is offering this year, Hale and Feagin both agree the change was made because a majority of students wanted it.

Feagin said the university extended the building’s hours for students, trying to give them an environment to take part in at night.

“Any student who likes the idea of the Student Center being open for any reason — actions speak louder than words,” he said. “If they want to take advantage of (the later hours), they need to make it known. If they don’t like it, then they need to make that known, too.”

Students need to take charge, Feagin said, and express what they believe in.

“I’ve been on other campuses where their Student Center is open 24 hours, and there’s always students there,” he said. “If (Kent State) students want this, they have to make it known.”

Contact student politics Kelly Pickerel at [email protected].