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Column: The End of a BC Era

Published: Thursday, January 24, 2013

Updated: Thursday, January 24, 2013 02:01

   Last semester I wrote a column questioning the purpose behind Stokes Hall. I recognized the necessity for extra classroom space while also lamenting the tragic death of the Dustbowl. Now that Stokes Hall is open for academic business, I felt obligated to write a follow-up evaluation.

I arrived at Stokes Hall for the first time last week, 10 minutes early for class for the first time since the New York Jets were relevant. I marveled at the spacious and clean classrooms, which are a welcome upgrade from the grimy netherworld of Carney Hall. I also immediately called second semester dibs on a seat in the second floor hallway connecting the North and South buildings. On weekdays I frequently read in this corner, where I can relax comfortably while people-watching through the massive windows. Finally, I ventured cautiously to the mysterious fifth floor, where I discovered a locked penthouse. I have a sneaking suspicion that a vicious three-headed dog sits behind this mystifying door, guarding the sorcerer’s stone which University President Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J., uses to preserve his immortality.

    My initial enthusiasm for Stokes Hall evaporated when I found the newly opened Chocolate Bar. During my freshman and sophomore years I frequently visited the original Chocolate Bar in McElroy. Their delicious Oreo and moose tracks frappes were the elixir I needed to cure my writer’s block. To my horror, I discovered the new Chocolate Bar doesn’t serve any kind of frappe or ice cream, but instead offers an extensive variety of espressos and coffees, along with gelato. I understand that the vast majority of Boston College students have a relationship with coffee that resembles a car’s dependence on gasoline to function, and that the new Chocolate Bar is meeting the demands of its customers. However, I am one of the elite one percent of students who does not need caffeine to perform basic human actions. The original Chocolate Bar’s frappes were a staple of my underclassman meals. Unfortunately, this scrumptious dessert has disappeared as tragically and suddenly as the Dustbowl.

    Even after thoroughly exploring the new Stokes Hall with an open mind, my opinion remains unchanged from my original September column. I fully appreciate the new classroom space, and am grateful that I don’t have to trek across the ends of the earth to a humanities class in Gonzaga like I did sophomore year. On the other hand, I still mourn the untimely death of the Dustbowl over two years after it was unceremoniously roped off for the construction of Stokes Hall. One of the reasons I chose BC, apart from my spurned courtship of Georgetown, was its hybrid rural and urban campus. The Dustbowl was the defining, postcard-worthy feature of BC’s rural features before its sudden demise. 
   To be fair, a small part of the original Dustbowl has been preserved between Stokes and Carney. However, my gut reaction as I walk past the Quad toward McElroy is still the same as that dark day two years ago. It feels cramped. Devlin, Carney, and Stokes are practically on top of each other, much like an urban university squashes academic buildings together. The surviving part of the Dustbowl is too small for the exciting Welcome Weekend activities of freshman year, where free food was omnipresent as a magician and musical performers entertained the awkwardly comingling Class of 2013. I understand that Stokes Hall provides dozens of urgently needed classrooms. One nostalgic column won’t convince the board of trustees to tear down this brand new Gothic monstrosity. Stokes Hall is here to stay, and the Dustbowl, along with my treasured frappes, is gone forever.


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