The semester’s first week of classes has been marked by the opening of the much-anticipated Ray Kelly Student Commons, which features new dining options, meeting spaces and faculty offices.
The commons, which set Manhattan College back more than $40 million mostly acquired in donations, broke ground in December of 2013.
As far as using the new building, which connects the north and south sides of MC’s campus, students and faculty will have to get used to new office locations and other functions of the building. The commons features a fully functioning Starbucks, Arthur Avenue Deli, Italian Trattoria, Quigley Grill, Asian Wok, smoothie station, a grab and go station and a Barnes & Noble campus bookstore.
“It’s so far, so good with the new commons. It’s just something we’re going to have to get used to,” said John Bennett, director of student activities. “I went to MC in the nineties and I’m accustomed to Smith being the center of campus. It’s kind of like working at a new job.”
The commons was used for orientation planning and resident assistant training prior to the week of its opening. Students and faculty who have had the opportunity to work in the commons before its official opening have been impressed with the new building.
“It definitely brings a lot of amenities that we didn’t have before like the new pizza place and a full functioning Starbucks and all the conference rooms,” said student body President John Tudisco who spent time in the commons during resident assistant training. “I’m excited to see the building in action. Right now I’ve only seen it at about five percent capacity,” Tudisco said. “I’m sure there are a lot of things that need to be worked out, but for now it’s lived up to the hype.”
One of the major problems anticipated by staff, especially the student activities office, is that students will be unaware of where faculty offices have been relocated.
“It’s all positive so far, the only downfall is that we’ve been so much busier,” Bennett said. “We’ve been working on trying to get some incentives for students to come down to the office. It’ll be nice down the road once students know second nature to come here.”
One of the main changes coming with the new commons is MC’s switch from the eFollett platform for the campus bookstore to Barnes & Noble as the retailer for our bookstore.
“Students have been coming in in waves, they haven’t been coming all at the same time which is a good thing,” said Henry Castillo, the store manager of the Barnes & Noble campus bookstore. “We have been actively encouraging students to order their books online so that they can just come in here and pick them up without having to wait in line.”
The MC community is definitely in for a change, but the future of the commons looks bright for students and faculty to stretch out beyond north and south campuses.