This got me thinking, again, about the public spaces on our campuses and whether or not they are effective in building community. In my last post I talked a bit about student union buildings and the lack of academic happenings there. As I read Fred Kent's piece and spent some time on the PPS site, I realized that it's not just academics that are often missing from the student union, but a whole host of other things as well. On my campus the Student center has a variety of things going on, but they are all the same sorts of things--a bowling alley, student clubs, a student-service center, and a food court. Those are all great things, but they seem to all appeal to the same sort of student, one likely to be involved in social events, formalized student leadership, and campus-sponsored organizations. If I've read Kent's ideas accurately, the best sort of student center is a little more eclectic and hosts a broad range of things that are likely to attract all sorts of students.
So, if you were going to redesign your student union (or whatever you call it on your campus), what sorts of things would you make sure were there? Or, if your student center is already this sort of teeming public space, what sorts of things happen there that make it so?