Lost Amherst: The Soul of the Triangle
By Alex Coburn '11, Staff Writer

Over the past few weeks, “Lost Amherst” has documented the removal of specific spaces in Amherst’s renovated fraternity houses, such as GOTE rooms, basements and the Mayo-Smith ballroom. Using a recent survey of 160 seniors, this week’s edition addresses how the overall character of these buildings has changed through the renovations.

This year’s graduating seniors comprise the last class that experienced the original triangle. It is overwhelmingly clear from these survey results that, in the eyes of the only Amherst students who have experienced both the original and the updated form of these former fraternity houses, something has gone seriously wrong in the renovation process. Despite the administration’s claim that “the existing architectural character of the building[s] was maintained” through these projects, 86 percent of surveyed seniors feel otherwise, and 72 percent hold the opinion that the altered character of these houses has negatively impacted student living. This isn’t to say that the new dorms are “bad” places to live, or that the old houses are ideal — rather, what these results indicate is that the recent wave of (costly) campus-wide renovations isn’t necessarily pushing our College in the right direction, at least as far as residential life is concerned. 95 percent (126 of 132) of seniors polled expressed opposition to the renovation of Seligman, Plimpton, Tyler, Garman, Marsh and the Zu “in a similar manner as the triangle.” And yet, the Residential Master Plan, the decade-long project that spurred these projects, calls for “the renovation of the remainder of the College’s residential facilities” in the coming years, including the remainder of the old fraternity houses (beginning with Seligman next year). These remaining houses represent some of the most valuable residential, social, and historic resources on our campus — let’s not let them go the way of the Seelye, Mayo-Smith, Hitchcock, and the rest of the renovated dormitories.

Issue 21, Submitted 2011-04-06 03:35:54