In addition to working, hanging out, getting some exercise, and having some fun this summer I’ve also been working on the Usdan Gameroom, which has been my project ever since students voted to allocate the money last year.
While I feel I’ve done a lot of things for Brandeis, the gameroom is something really tangible and apparent, and I want to make sure its done right. Plus, I’m finding it very fun to have control over a $122,000 budget.
Working with Alwina and John Cummings, a very helpful, if cautious, staff member in charge of campus constrution projects, I created a plan for the space. Construction is basically finished now. We have a cleaned and realigned the ceiling grid and added new ceiling tiles, added new lighting, new power, installed new carpeting, we’ve replaced the broken glass, we’ve removed huge amounts of shelving and countertops and book cases and such, and we’ve given it all some fresh paint.
There are speakers in the ceilings, there are now finally accessible light switches, so we can turn the lights on and off ourself (what a concept!), and now there are more then four power outlets for the whole room. I think its a pretty impressive transformation of an old bookstore that was falling apart. And it sure was expensive. On the order of $82,000 expensive, and all of it paid for with student money.
We had already spent about $4,000 on assorted supplies and such for the gameroom last year. I just put in the P.O. for our order from the Compleat Gamester — four new commercial-grade pool tables, 2 ping pong, 2 foosball, 2 air hockey with overhead electronic scoring, 3 dart boards, assorted pool supplies (cues, balls, triangles, racks, chalk). That ended up coming in around $23,000, just shy of the price at which we’d need to go and get competitive bids.
With $109,000 spent or allocated, we still haven’t gotten a lot of things that we promised. Tables and chairs. Comfortable couches. Stools for the pool area. New counterspace for the Student Services Bureau, which helps staff the space. Pinball, arcade, and a Dance Dance Revolution machine. The big TV projector and screen. Photographs and posters for the walls. Signage. Some computer kiosks for checking email and such.
I have about $13,000 left, and there is no way I can get everything I really need to get to make this room exceptional. At the same time, Alwina and I have felt from the beginning that the University, which owns the space, should have been covering at least some of the essential construction. They would have needed to fix the power, to tear out all of the shelving, to clean up the ceilings. If they could cover these essential space improvements that they would have needed to do anyway, we would have another $20-30,000 to work with, and could really make the room exceptional.
I have a meeting on Thursday with the people who could make that happen, but, unfortunately, I find it unlikely that they will.
I don’t think they understand that the gameroom isn’t just a temporary thing paid for by students, it is going to become a permanent and important part of campus life. Every Admissions tour points out the gameroom and tells potential students about the wonders it will contain. Most of what they said is going to be in there is at this point not going to be. The gameroom is an investment in making Brandeis a better place, and, with any luck, some senior administrators can see that and provide us with the help we need to make it a success.