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Student groups adjust to new home in the Duncan Student Center

| Monday, February 5, 2018

Several student organizations — including most student media and the climbing club — relocated to the Duncan Student Center this semester with the opening of the new facilities.

With the transition, many of the groups have seen increased visibility and significant upgrades in technology.

Chris Collins | The Observer
The new Duncan Student Center features studio and office space for several student media groups on campus.

Once located in the basement of Washington Hall, NDtv’s offices now include a broadcasting studio on the second floor of the student center. This prominent location has given the station an increased presence on campus, senior and co-executive producer Amanda Pilarski said.

“Nobody knew NDtv existed really [and] didn’t really know where we were,” she said. “You had to look for our space, but now it’s just so visible that we’ve gotten people reaching out to us being like ‘What is this? Can I be involved?’ We’re hard to miss now, which is a good thing.”

Alongside this studio, equipment upgrades have allowed NDtv to expand its livestream content, senior and co-executive producer Robert Kesman said.

“We were doing strictly shoots outside of the studio but now we’ve gotten all new teleprompters, cameras, broadcasting equipment, and we’ve had this team of people showing us how to do it every time we’re in here,” he said. “They’re helping us out and learn how to do it, so now we kind of feel a little bit more confident making live material.”

Both WVFI and WSND — Notre Dame’s student-run radio stations — also received updated equipment, replacing decades-old technology.

“We’ve been broadcasting for 60-plus years, so much of it was in need of an update,” Liz Wildenhain, senior and WSND station manager, said. “With the move we got new microphones. We also started to switch over to a digital system instead of using just CDs and that has been a big transition … but I think it’s been really good.”

Senior and WVFI station manager Dino Swan said the relocation of both radio stations has helped students to distinguish between the two.

“Now it’s very obvious there are two radio stations on campus,” he said. “For the longest time, people either thought we were the same thing or didn’t know the other one existed.

“So before when we said ‘I work for student radio,’ they just assumed it was one thing, but now people can clearly see we’re two separate things. But we’re also very close proximity wise, and we’re actually working on a lot of projects together which is neat.”

Senior Claire Solomon, editor-in-chief of The Dome, also said she appreciated the increased collaboration between various student groups.

“We share space with Scholastic, and then NDtv and WVFI are really close too, so it’s nice to have a lot of the student media in the same space,” she said. “We can utilize each other’s space and collaborate on stuff which is cool.”

The Juggler — Notre Dame’s literary magazine — previously met in a conference room of South Dining Hall, but is now also located with Scholastic and The Dome. Sophomore Cat Barra, managing editor of The Juggler, said she has enjoyed having a new space specifically dedicated to the club.

“It’s different because we have both an office space and a definitive meeting space that’s in one, so I feel like it helps foster a sense of community and ‘this is our place,’” she said.

Senior Tessa Bangs, editor-in-chief of Scholastic, said she is excited about the new facilities, though the group’s relocation from South Dining Hall to the student center was “bittersweet.”

“Our final production [night] there in the fall, there weren’t quite tears, but there were a lot of photos taken and recollections written,” she said. “That said, though, I think as soon as we saw the foundation being laid for Duncan Student Center however many years ago, it was such a fun idea to think about the fact that we would have an office here.”

For many groups, the move to the student center has been similarly nostalgic. Senior Hannah Provost, climbing club president, said the old rock wall — located in a converted squash court in Rockne Memorial — created a distinct climbing culture which she hopes to cultivate in the new facilities.

“Something that was really awesome about the old wall — and I think which a lot of the very active club members miss a lot — is the intimacy that that close space created,” she said. “You really got to meet people and talk to people and it seemed kind of closed-off and safe. This wall is more visible, but I do think we can recreate that type of space. I think it will just take more effort.”

For some, rules regarding decorations — which are now restricted to tack boards — and smaller office spaces have been drawbacks of the new facilities. Swan, WVFI’s station manager, said while he was excited about the new offices, he was initially concerned about these changes.

“The one concern we had coming in was losing the office space we had, so there was a bit of downsizing square footage wise of what we had and along with that … we really cultivated an identity that was all of our own and very infused with the spot we had,” he said. “If you went into our old station, you’d see posters all over the walls.

“Some of the ceiling tiles were even spray-painted by people from the 90’s, early 2000’s, so it had a lot of character in it. So moving, we were a little concerned we’d lose some of the identity we had.”

Bangs said while she missed the decor of Scholastic’s old offices, she also looked forward to bringing the magazine’s traditions to a new center of campus.

“I feel that it’s been an especially important way for me as a member of the University community to kind of see how the Notre Dame student body and South Bend community as well are adapting to having this new student center,” she said. “It’s also allowed me to see a center of campus form which is fun and historical in a way. So it’s been very special.”

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About Natalie Weber

Natalie Weber graduated in 2020 from the University of Notre Dame, with a Bachelor of Arts in English and minors in journalism and computing. A native of Grand Junction, Colorado she most recently served as Managing Editor at The Observer. // Email: [email protected] // Twitter: @wordsbyweber

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