A center for change on campus

Editor’s note: This is a series of columns by John Malcolm on his “50 years at Fredonia.” Retired, he is a professor emeritus at Fredonia State.

I am sure that Bob Graham, first director of the “Campus” now the Williams Center, would have applauded if the spine had not been built from Reed Library to his Center. He always claimed that it cost him an additional floor.

Bob, in his participation in the design of the center had a complete workshop installed. (He was an Oswego industrial arts major.) This was later removed and the professional equipment found its way, mainly, to the Lodge. The room is now “the Pucci Room.”

The Center has undergone many changes in its life. Right now the question of what to do with vacated bookstore space is an issue. (With the construction of the recent facility attached to the old Cranston Dining Hall.)

The bookstore has changed a great deal since I was a student. In the ’50s it was in Fenton in a room now used as a classroom. Two lovely women staffed it. One could buy all their texts for less than $50. In a recent trip to our new store I note that a text used for public speaking, my course at one time, cost $78. Our new store has been compared to “a Borders.”

There was some controversy in selling things on campus since they could be considered competition with downtown. One example of this was the proposed barbershop in the Center. A chair was even purchased and a barber tentatively hired. It never happened. Of course with men’s styles in the past few years, a barber would have starved. Now that shaved heads seem to be in perhaps this might be a consideration.

The Faculty Student Association, whose origin has been discussed in the section on Gregory, mainly operates the center. A recent issue of The Leader published a comment by a student about the strict employee dress code in which female students could not use nail polish and those with visible tattoos would not be considered. Ear piercing was OK. I wonder what Dean Overs would say. (When I was hired as a faculty member in 1963 she, I think with a wink, said: “I thought you would be in jail.”)

The Williams Center has seen just about everything. It is a location for elaborate dinners, receptions, orientation sessions, organization meetings, dance marathons-televised live to the community, bazaars, plays and musical events, food tasting exhibits, demonstrations, pep rallies, elections and as a general meeting area for students. For a time there was an effort to have a space dedicated to the faculty for dining and socialization but these failed because of lack of interest.

The first satellite dish was placed on the building and it was paid for by a private company attempting to sell commercial time adjacent to student oriented programs – mainly concerts. This effort failed but the equipment remained.

John Malcolm is a Fredonia resident.