Hill as a New Social Space
Issue   |   Wed, 11/09/2011 - 03:12

Amherst has recently seen a huge push to organize more community-oriented events: from alternate locations for TAPs, to evening social events such as AC After Dark, to more senior-tradition oriented events. At the same time, we face a greater restraint on social spaces on campus, with a growing student body and a restriction on party locations due to Massachusetts fire regulations.

Another change, however, with respect to social spaces has occurred this year at Amherst: Tyler and Plimpton dorms have both been reopened to the Amherst community. This has created an often-ignored but extremely viable social space on campus: the Hill, which now houses three rejuventated dormitories with expansive common spaces. The ideal college house party, so culturally crucial to a liberal arts education, the image that springs to mind is of cozy foyers and spacious ballrooms. This is exactly what the Hill has to offer to Amherst.

It is time for the Amherst community to embrace the Hill as not just additional living space, but as the site of a possible and much-needed social hub for the campus. We often discard The Hill as an option for holding community events or all-Amherst parties, because of its so-called “isolated location” from campus. However, at a time of dissapearing social spaces, and when the College is increasingly focusing on gathering people together for innovative bonding activities, it’s rather disappointing that the Hill is so often sidelined.

Dormitories on the Hill have hosted successful community activities, such as “King of the Hill Trivia” at Plimpton or Marsh Coffee Haüs, which are well-attended despite the alleged inconveniences of distance. In addition, dorms on the Hill are working to expand their facilities, with the most recent expansion being an AAS senate project to bring a drum set and PA sound system to Marsh, with the hope of attracting more band performances.

Amherst students are spoiled when it comes to distances between locations on campus. A trek from Keefe to the Hill takes 10 minutes for the average walker, and while that might seem an odyssey for those used to finding the party literally in their backyard every Saturday, it is no worse than the trek from Val to the Alumni Gym. Besides, 10 minutes isn’t a huge sacrifice in comparison to the benefits of the Hill, which include the exciting possibility of concurrent events in the three dormitories. This can reduce the pitfalls of trying to cram a large number of people in one or two dorms, which has occurred at TAPs.