President’s Pages in Princeton Alumni Weekly
New Opportunities on Prospect Avenue
April 22, 2009
This fall, students will have two new destinations on Prospect Avenue, thanks to the top-to-bottom renovation of Elm and Campus Clubs, former eating clubs that will once again be places where students can gather for conversation, relaxation, and a wide variety of student activities. Each will add a unique dimension to the “Street,” complementing its eating clubs and enhancing the extracurricular experience of all our students.
Elm Club, which was acquired by the University in 1997, will be the new home of the Carl A. Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding, as well as of Community House, a student-inspired service organization that mentors and tutors low-income children in the Princeton area. The Fields Center plays a critical role in weaving together the ethnic and racial mosaic that Princeton has become, by celebrating not only our diversity but also the common concerns and aspirations that unite us. Under its aegis, our students have an opportunity to become true cosmopolitans by acquiring the insights and skills they need to exercise leadership within and across communities and, together, build a more just world.
The current location of the Fields Center, hidden behind the high brick wall that encloses the northeast corner of Prospect Avenue and Olden Street, did not serve its goals particularly well. As the activities it sponsors have -expanded — some 30 student organizations regularly use and help direct its resources — more and more events have had to be held at other sites, and this has hindered its ability to play the central role we have envisaged for it. The beautifully renovated Elm Club, with its visible prime location, flexible public spaces, and 5,000 square-foot addition to accommodate large-scale social and educational events, will solve this problem and allow the center to move forward with its strategic vision, one that is dedicated to promoting empowerment, understanding, leadership, and social justice. From far-reaching multiracial dialogues to freshman mentoring involving approximately 350 students; from academic seminars to game and movie nights, the Fields Center will soon have a home that will help it to realize its goal of becoming “an essential part of each student’s Princeton experience.”
Just down the Street, on the southeast corner of Prospect Avenue and Washington Road, a rejuvenated Campus Club promises to play an equally important role in the life of our University community. Donated to Princeton in 2006 with the understanding that it would serve as a gathering place for students, as well as former club members and other alumni on special occasions such as Reunions, Campus Club will reopen its doors in September with significant structural improvements, including an elevator, while retaining much of its original appearance and character. What will make the club unique is the degree to which it will be operated by students for students. Graduate students will rub shoulders with undergraduates, freshmen will encounter seniors, and eating club members will be as welcome as those who have chosen to live in our residential colleges or independent dormitories. A 14-member student advisory board has been convened to provide direction, with administrative support supplied by the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students. Other students will constitute a programming committee to ensure that the club will have regularly scheduled activities, such as a weekly coffee house with food and entertainment, and be available to host events for a wide array of groups on campus.
Campus Club is also intended to be a spot where individual students can simply hang out, whether that means curling up with a book in its library, trying for a perfect break shot in its poolroom, or watching a basketball game on the large-screen television in its beer-free taproom. Its small scale makes the club a cozy alternative to Frist Campus Center, as does the absence of restrictions on independent catering. With its student-centered mission and traditional décor and furnishings, Campus Club will — like the former Elm Club — honor its heritage while making the Street a more welcoming place for everyone.