March 25, 2008

Community Discussion Panel Next Week

Here's a message from the Urban Studies Majors Committee:

The Urban Studies Majors Committee is sponsoring a community forum to address the plans for the relocation of the campus bookstore and the redevelopment of the Arlington Business District. A panel of college representatives will be present to provide information and a variety of perspectives on the ongoing plans. There will be the opportunity for open discussion – so please bring any questions, concerns or ideas you may have.

Wednesday, April 2nd
5:30 pm, UpC
Please contact maborgenicht@vassar.edu with any questions.
- -
The panelists are still being finalized, we're told.

CLICK HERE for the Facebook event.

Also CLICK HERE and HERE for our two previous posts on opposition to the bookstore proposal.

UPDATE: The panel will be a community discussion, not only in favor of "opposition." We apologize for the earlier post title labeling it "Opposition Panel."

54 comments:

Anonymous said...

please stop misinforming people. i don't think this is an "opposition" panel. it's an information panel! since when has being informed been opposition??

Anonymous said...

this panel is ridiculous. the decision has been made. second guessing administrators when students have no representation is one thing, but the whole vsa has been in on this...

Anonymous said...

the vsa doesn't represent students. they represent the same number of students as there are students in the vsa. i only know one person on it, and he's a tool. yes, complain that if i'm so upset with the job they're doing i should run. truth is, i have better things to do with my time than be the administration's bitch. and i always will retain my right to disagree, particularly when you invite Barnes and Nobles next door to a neighborhood bookstore.

Andrew Bennett said...

I want to thank the Urban Studies majors for putting the panel together. 4:44 is right; from what I have heard, the event should be a fruitful discussion and not an "opposition panel."

As to 4:52's point, there are lots of important decisions that still need to be made. Also, I want to ask people to come out to the event so that the VSA reps involved, myself included, can better represent the student perspective. I am eager to hear the ideas and concerns students have and to bring them to the table.

Anonymous said...

5:00 - yeah, you have a right to disagree, except this is an unusual case.

as andrew explained, this decision was a business deal and thus had to be kept quiet, since talking about contracts and such in the open is unprofessional when companies are bidding against one another. so, students had elected representatives. you are complaining about a decision made by your representatives, which is fine, except that there was no way for you to intervene when it mattered. bitching about it now doesn't do anything.

besides, there is NOTHING wrong with barnes and noble.

Anonymous said...

5:12, it's not about Barnes and Nobles. This isn't Killer Coke Part II. There are just many of us who would rather not place a major chain store next to a small bookstore-- and we're the same people who advocate WVKR playing independent music instead of the same stuff hyped up by the Big Four.

Small business are the lifeblood of the art world.

Anonymous said...

... this panel isn't for bitching, it's for TELLING PEOPLE WHAT IS GOING ON, because clearly there's a lot of confusion and misinformation out there. and mads PLEASE change the title of this post.

also, 4:52, putting so much faith in representative government is, sry2say, a bit sad and naive. look at this country!! look at EVERY country!!! also, the whole vsa has NOT been in on this. do you mean the exec? council? the special committees put together by the board of trustees? who are you referring to? how do you know the whole vsa is in on this? fyi WE are the vsa. every student is the vsa, and as far as i know, i haven't been in on this.

also, i think responsible citizens SHOULD second-guess administrators even if we DO have representation, but that is a separate point all together.

the decision has been made to move the bookstore there, yes, but they're still waiting on bookstore bids (as far as i know). so in that sense, the barnes and noble aspect of it hasn't been made.

5:12
if you guys want to know what's wrong with big bookstores:
- prime space (floor, shelf, wall, etc) in chain bookstores is BOUGHT by big publishers. this has a profound influence on the way people think, the information that the masses absorb. it's no coincidence that the SAME BOOKS are at the front of every b&n! as a college and a place of learning, i don't think vassar should be complicit in these processes.
--> http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9801E2DE1139F936A25752C0A960958260

i'm not saying that this is a conspiracy, but as a site of knowledge production i think it's important that we don't SELL OUT, for lack of a better phrase.

Anonymous said...

i vote we let B&N take over and make a starbucks.
the coffee on our campus is awful
i'd love to have my green tea frappe on a normal basis.
kill me if i don't mind big businesses.

Anonymous said...

5:00 i agree.

Anonymous said...

i don't really care whether it's a barnes and noble or an independent bookstore. as long as it looks good and bestows a wealthier, cleaner image in an area with so many decrepit buildings and businesses. the brand name isn't what matters, so long as the new bookstore adds that certain charm and elegance to the area surrounding us.

Anonymous said...

I have a question:

What's wrong with the Raymond ave/Collegeview district the way it is? This is the type of neighborhood I grew up in... so it seems normal to me.

What are people looking for? A versace store?

Anonymous said...

I think the problem with the area is twofold: first, so many buildings in the short strip along raymond are gross looking. they haven't been painted in forever, the sidewalks are cracked, the windows are smudged, and there aren't enough attractive awnings and fancy signs (to make it look more commercial). These physical issues are especially concerning along Main Street, which is further from our college but still within the range that visitors see it as they approach.

The second problem in this area is the types of businesses. They're too small, both physically and in selection. I think students would like to see more brand names around the area. i'm not saying 100% big corporations, but just a few 'real' businesses closer to the college. those could be restaurants (an olive garden on raymond?) or stores (a computer store, maybe). In other words, larger businesses that serve better purposes, and perhaps most importantly, look like they should be next to a school like vassar. let me be clear - that doesn't have to mean circuit city or another box store. it could be an indpendent local business, since people seem to like locals places so much. the crucial feature is that it has to look presentable, charming, and extremely well kept from the outside.

Anonymous said...

"i'd love to have my green tea frappe on a normal basis."

hahahhahahahhahhahahahahahahahhha

Anonymous said...

Yeeeaaahh i love starbucks teas. we should ask the vsa to ask the administration to solicit starbucks to open up a store on raymond!! it could go right where that ugly dollar store is now.

Anonymous said...

the comments in here make me very mad because it seems vassar has recruited and enrolled some very very entitled students. we're here for FOUR YEARS--residents are here for life. we have to stop thinking so vassar-centrically because a lot of the stores here actually cater to the demographic of people who actually live here, and they reflect that! i.e. dollar stores, consignment shops, laundry, fax/copy places.

there is no need for an olive garden here. marco's pizza is great.


if you wanted to go to live in a suburb, then you should have gone to school in a suburb.

Anonymous said...

"if you wanted to go to live in a suburb, then you should have gone to school in a suburb."

I hate arguments like these. It's basically saying, "we should be content with the status quo. vassar has flaws and we shouldn't bother to fix them, and if you want to fix them, you should have gone to harvard."

i disagree. one of the biggest flaws vassar has - one mentioned in pretty much every college guidebook that I read last year - is that the area around here sucks. it's not as nice as the areas around other small liberal arts colleges. this is something that we should do everything in our power to fix. because even if "we" are only here for 4 years, vassar will be here a lot longer. and our success in life is linked in part to vassar's reputation. it's in our interests to make vassar as wonderful as possible, and that means surrounding it with the nicest commercial district possible.

Anonymous said...

It's troubling to see how many Vassar students are completely self-interested, self-absorbed, and oblivious to their own privilege.

And this school is branded as 'liberal'? Yikes.

Anonymous said...

vassar is extremely liberal. but liberal doesn't have to mean that we're so outward looking that we stop caring about what people think as they drive up to vassar. it doesn't have to mean that we stop caring about the economic rejuvenation of the lackluster, falling-apart businesses around us.

let's not make this into a conservative, "big business rules" vs. liberal, "privileged people suck" argument. instead, let's focus on what's best for the image of vassar and for future vassar students, since as a previous poster said, our futures are very much tied to the success and reputation of this school. in that regard, this bookstore and the general rejuvenation of the area around the college is undoubtedly in our interest.

Anonymous said...

i don't think that 11:54 is saying they're "content with the status quo," i think they're saying that they can respect the fact that we're part of a larger community that we might not fully understand.

yeah, we have work to do. there are things that could be better. but what better is shouldn't be decided solely by vassar or solely by the community.

what's sad is that there's no real structure in place to give birth to those discussions. chances are, things around the school are decided solely by vassar or solely by the community.

and marco's pizza. phenomenal. freshmen, if you haven't ventured farther than babycakes, do your stomach justice and check it out.

Anonymous said...

yeah there should be some sort of structure in place where vassar people can sit down with community people and explain the best ways to develop their community. we could even hire some consultants to design a plan to help them redesign the area. that way, we'd get what we want and they wouldn't complain so much.

Anonymous said...

raymond ave. actually looks a lot better than my hometown. it's actually pretty sad that so many vassar yuppies magically emerge when they are given the chance to be anonymous.

i wish this blog was around when i was a high school senior...

Anonymous said...

i'm sad, and i'm complaining. is vassar's reputation somehow at risk? i think the answer is no.

Anonymous said...

it would be great if the barnes and noble had one of those dvd/cd stores. those are great. wouldn't it be fab if we could charge dvd sets home on our vcards??? i can't wait!

Anonymous said...

12:42--

AMEN.

Anonymous said...

i think it would be best to have the b&n and starbucks be separate. that way, more of the area would look transformed. although it'd be nice to have drinks available inside the store too, but this way the starbucks could be more public.

i wonder if they could work out a deal with them so that our cards would work to get coffee?

Anonymous said...

11:54 says we're here for FOUR YEARS--residents are here for life.

but vassar is here forever. and if businesses can't get the support of vassar students, then they go under (like arlington pizza from last year, and whatever restaurant was in the space the year before). there are plenty of businesses that could support vassar students and poughkeepsie residents. the shopping areas in my hometown have a pleasant mix of big chain stores and locally-owned shops. i think arlington could have a good balance; say, bigger retail places but locally-owned restaurants.

Anonymous said...

true. we need to make the area more commercial so that people who would otherwise be turned off by the disgusting eyesore will have incentive to come! vassar's outsides need to match its princely insides. let's just not tell the prospies about the housing crunch.

ps yay! now i can charge $4 frappes home to the rents.

womyn. said...

I think they should build a Sonic where Juliets is now. It would increase parking for Vassar students and allow townies and students to bond over their new baked mac and cheese bites and their almost magical ability to create the best crushed ice this side of Macau.

Anonymous said...

1:21 - your comment was clearly sarcastic, but the fact is, you're correct without it. let's call a spade a spade. the area around vassar is butt ugly. the buildings on main street are falling apart. we need to realize that prospies don't just see the campus tours, they see the whole area around here as they drive up. do we really want to give a qualified student who will graduate and make millions any reason to go someplace else? do we really want anyone to be turned off of vassar for a reason as stupid as the look of the surrounding area? of course not! so we need to take matters into our own hands and fix the area up so that it looks attractive, safe, and commercial.

Anonymous said...

1:15 you are 110% on the money. the answer has to be a mix of locally owned businesses and larger corporate ones. it seems to me that the corporations should handle providing mass goods - books and groceries. locals should handle cultural stuff, like restaurants.

Anonymous said...

ok.
you guys see ONE Street.
go further
seriously
its the fucking suburbs

Anonymous said...

but that one awful street is the one that most matters to the college...

Anonymous said...

i don't get this conversation. if vassar if willing to put up the money to make this area look five hundred times better, then that's awesome. it's not like businesses here are doing so wonderfully now and we'd be spoiling their huge cash-flows. in the three years i've been here, i've seen probably 5 businesses go under just on collegeview. and most of those businesses sucked and looked ugly anyway (arlington pizza being the only exception). so if vc is willing to spend the $$ to improve the look of the area around the college with nice stores, then that sounds freakin wonderful and people should stop bitching about nothing

Anonymous said...

it's not just one street. it's really not. nowhere within walking distance is nice. and there's no reason why it shouldn't be nice.

Anonymous said...

for all the bitching, raymond and collegeview etc basically have everything we need. a ton of restaurants, 2 coffee places, a bookstore, a dollar store for random stuff, etc. if you need more, take a taxi or the shuttle to the mall. pretty basic.

i do think that vassar and the surrounding neighborhood have things that could be worked on and improved on. but if the surrounding town is of the utmost importance to you and you're not a fan of poughkeepsie, maybe you should have picked something else. i can walk to everything i need and most of what i want, so i'm pretty content. and it's really not as decrepid as everyone's making it out to be. maybe just a new paint job.

i know that the big bookstore is going to happen. which sucks. but bitching isnt really going to change it. maybe encourage vassar to choose an independant provider if you hate b&n so much, encourage them to work with the three arts to coexist, etc. dont complain about things you cant change, and work on what you can.

i also want to know what theyre going to do with the space where the current bookstore is. any thoughts?

Android said...

I don't get it. What is so damn necessary about the surrounding area being "commercial" in order for it to be nice?

Poughkeepsie is not a blemish on Vassar's face. Get that into your heads, maybe go somewhere beyond Raymond Avenue (some place that's not the mall) and you'd understand.

Anonymous said...

this area need a big bookstore so badly. it would really make the look of the town so much better for countless numbers of vassar visitors. it would be big, clean and bright - three things that don't really apply to any of the current businesses, except HSBC, Babycakes, and the vitamin store. everything else needs to be torn down and renovated in a much more elegant style.

Anonymous said...

i don't get it. are these the same three people commenting over and over again? or is 2/3rds of the vassar constituency reading this blog really that dense?

andrew bennett said...

To 12:58 and 1:02 -- There are a couple of structures in place for Vassar to work with the community: the Arlington Business Improvement District (arlingtonbid.org) is an organization to improve the area and the Vassar Community Committee works to strengthen ties with the community. Furthermore, Vassar's administrators maintain an open dialogue with landlords and business owners. In response to 1:02's recommendation of hiring some consultants, Vassar has done that! The decision to move the bookstore was based off some of the work done by the consultant.

Anonymous said...

wow, when i came to Vassar i thought i'd be coming to a place with real, intelligent people. now, a year and a half later, i realize that much of the student body (or at least much of the posters on this wall) are the same business minded, egocentric yuppies that i was trying to escape.

as a wise (though sullen) youth once declared, "i hate rich kids"

Anonymous said...

hey, 3:04. who are you to say that business minded, egocentric yuppies are neither real nor intelligent?

Anonymous said...

a human being that thinks about the world in terms other than convenience, money, and appearances. as far as i'm concerned, half these posters would've made fit into Lester Burnham's neighborhood perfectly.

Anonymous said...

it's not vassar's job to help people in the local community; that's their job and their government's job. it's our job to make vassar as wonderful a place as possible, which includes making the hideous area around main street better.

Anonymous said...

its frustrating
because Poughkeepsie is so much like my hometown
and most of these posters are probably used to sprawling, suburban mini-mansions in perfectly kept neighborhoods.
and anything that doesn't fit those standards is "hideous"
I was on the bus through poughkeepsie today, and really, the houses surrounding Vassar are quaint little townhouses. Not the fucking slums you make them out to be.

Anonymous said...

If I were a prospective student, seeing a Barnes and Noble or a Starbucks would not impress me in the way that some people think to seem it would. I agree that the conditions of the sidewalks and some of the buildings are poor, but I don't think substituting them with franchises that they can find anywhere else will make people want to come especially to Vassar.

Anonymous said...

3:31-
Do you really want to live in a world where people limit their good deeds to what their "job" is? Not only does your post demonstrate that you don't understand what this college represents, it really makes you look like an uncaring schmuck.

Anonymous said...

I think with hot button issues like this it's important to remember that one person (or commenter's) opinion does not represent everyone's. It's not fun to see ignorance and bigotry enter into a debate on our campus, but it does. Have faith that Vassar is a forward thinking place. We are lucky that the Urban Studies majors set up this panel, we should thank them! I hope the people with passionate feelings who've been posting will be there tomorrow. Bitching when anonymous and keeping your mouth shut in a legitimate forum is no way to act.

Anonymous said...

does everyone here realize that b&n already runs the on campus bookstore? because it does. ok, cool.

also, instead of debating about franchises vs local shops, perhaps we should consider what would be most likely to meet customers' needs. i'm perfectly happy to patronize the three arts, but the fact is that they are much less likely to have what i need than a larger chain.

b&n isn't just convenient for rich yuppies, it's convenient for anyone who needs books (or various other products).

finally, i think that if anything, having the bookstore in the juliet's location will increase the business received by other local stores because students will have to walk off campus anyway.

Anonymous said...

see, i think that these mads posts show that there is a silent minority - probably a very sizable minority - on this campus that don't buy into all of this uber-liberal independent stores local community crap. the reason we don't come out and say so in public is that you'll label us racists or bigots or something of that nature.

but being fiscally conservative and thinking that vassar should act in its own best interests does NOT make me racist. it's simply another way of looking at a situation. i personally don't want to see two cents of my tuition money going to anything to benefit the local community. i don't give a damn about the local community. i'm sure they're nice people, but their affairs are their business. the only reason vassar should spend money on arlington is insofar as it makes the college look and feel better. that means a nice, big, safe, airy, bookstore with lots of attractive signs and benches outside.

Anonymous said...

Who really remembers feeling "disgusted" by Raymond ave when they drove up it to visit the school before they came here? Anyone? Because I know I didn't. Ok, fine, so when I go to New Paltz I'm a little jealous that Vassar isn't in an area like that, but this is what it is. We are visitors here in Poughkeepsie. It provides us everything we need. Like another poster pointed out, there's already a ton of stuff right off campus! Great restaurants, coffee, and businesses that serve full time Poughkeepsie residents. I don't think Raymond needs to be "torn down" and renovated, and yes, I do think the pressing needs of the people who live in the area full time should come first.

Anonymous said...

the "pressing needs" of permanent residents should be a first concern for those residents and their elected representatives.

however, if we are acting within the bounds of the law, and within the bounds of representing the best interests of the college, the needs of locals should enter our minds only when they serve us.

Anonymous said...

11:39 - as members of a community it's important that we don't act unilaterally.

Anonymous said...

why can't be act in our own self-interest? making this area richer is in the best interests of the area itself. not just its current set of locals, who will not last as long as vassar.

Anonymous said...

I have to scrap together cash each month to help pay my Vassar tuition. I have a campus job, and I work all year round to pay to be here.

I don't want to see one damn dime of the money I pay Vassar being injected to the poor, ugly community that surrounds us. All of our money should be spent on us, the students. That means beautiful new buildings, beautiful grounds, top-notch professors. Think I'm selfish? Maybe I am. But I don't want my hard earned money to help remake some ghetto. Every cent of that money should be spent on me and my peers.