Fully renovated as of May 2013, the Bobcat Den was designed as an “an alternative dining space” to Commons, according to Bates Dining Services. Since then, it has come to serve the needs of students craving anything other than Commons on both weekdays and weekends, and is equipped with a weeknight-ly delivery service. Moreover, the Den is open when Commons is closed, and regularly provides sushi, sandwhiches, burgers, and other food that Commons does not offer every single day. This highly frequented, highly needed, alternative space, however, is not included in the Commons meal plan, which I believe to be a discriminatory principle that has concerning implications.

The Den provides a space of solitude and privacy, with a lack of social pressure to commune with the other people enjoying their meals. The Den is arranged circularly, with boothed tables lining its perimeter, and tables connected with a specific amount of chairs at its center. There are three differences in layout to the Den’s nucleus. The tables closest to the register are elevated and stand above any other seating option, creating a vertical barrier. The next level of the circle has tables of the same height as every other seating option, that are connected, but can be taken apart. These tables are most similar to those of Commons, in that they are in open space with no architectural boundaries between them and the other tables. The last layer at the heart of this setup are comfy leather couches and single-person chairs. While they are out in the open like the tables with traditional chairs, they do not have large tables, and afford the comfort of spatial separation between each couch. Lastly, there are booths on the perimeter of the Den, with tall backed walls, a physical indication denoting privacy and separation from other booths and tables. The contrast of the physical layout to Commons, without even comparing the pillars, is intensely stark. Without going into much detail about the Den’s hours and busiest times or noting its delivery service and just remembering the simple architectural difference it has to Commons is enough to understand the contrasting vibes between the Den and Commons, and why the Den is such a necessary option for Bates Students to have.

Unlike the Den, Commons is not designed for introverts. Its large tables marked with a specific number of chairs suggest a large party fill them, and there is no physical privacy from one table to the next. In addition, because Commons gets so busy during lunch and dinner times, occupying one table individually excludes others from finding a table conveniently located close to the food stations. The tables upstairs are not any more private than  those downstairs, nor is the Fishbowl. The Green Room is the only place in which physical boundaries of privacy are demarcated by smaller tables and benches, yet it is one of the smallest parts of Commons, and its original purpose was not included to be a part of Commons. While having a singular dining commons is a hallmark not only of the Bates tradition, but also the Bates experience, it places a lot of social pressure on students to constantly engage with one another. The Den provides a haven of rest and recuperation for those who want to enjoy a meal in silence, to eat while catching up on homework, or to simply take their meal to go, which is prohibited by Commons. By requiring money from students instead of being a part of the meal plan, students are forced to place a monetary value on their privacy. Furthermore, privacy and alone time, as a part of meal time, are now commodified privileges that is only available to the students who can afford it, which is inherently problematic. If students want to eat enjoy their meals in silence or by themselves, they literally have to pay for it.

For this reason, it makes sense to include the Den in the Commons meal plan by either raising the meal plan price, or generating a point system that would work in the following ways: if a student only swipes into Commons one or two times, rather than three or more times a day, they are alotted a certain amount to spend at the Den as a part of their meal plan. This would also benefit students who have dietary restrictions and have trouble finding what they need in Commons because of these restrictions. This would also remove pressure from Commons to satisfy every single need of every individual student, which can not only be overwhelming, but is also a farfetched idea.

Fully renovated as of May 2013, the Bobcat Den was designed as an “an alternative dining space” to Commons, according to Bates Dining Services. Since then, it has come to serve the needs of students craving anything other than Commons on both weekdays and weekends, and is equipped with a weeknight-ly delivery service. Moreover, the Den is open when Commons is closed, and regularly provides sushi, sandwhiches, burgers, and other food that Commons does not offer every single day. This highly frequented, highly needed, alternative space, however, is not included in the Commons meal plan, which I believe to be a discriminatory principle that has concerning implications.

The Den provides a space of solitude and privacy, with a lack of social pressure to commune with the other people enjoying their meals. The Den is arranged circularly, with boothed tables lining its perimeter, and tables connected with a specific amount of chairs at its center. There are three differences in layout to the Den’s nucleus. The tables closest to the register are elevated and stand above any other seating option, creating a vertical barrier. The next level of the circle has tables of the same height as every other seating option, that are connected, but can be taken apart. These tables are most similar to those of Commons, in that they are in open space with no architectural boundaries between them and the other tables. The last layer at the heart of this setup are comfy leather couches and single-person chairs. While they are out in the open like the tables with traditional chairs, they do not have large tables, and afford the comfort of spatial separation between each couch. Lastly, there are booths on the perimeter of the Den, with tall backed walls, a physical indication denoting privacy and separation from other booths and tables. The contrast of the physical layout to Commons, without even comparing the pillars, is intensely stark. Without going into much detail about the Den’s hours and busiest times or noting its delivery service and just remembering the simple architectural difference it has to Commons is enough to understand the contrasting vibes between the Den and Commons, and why the Den is such a necessary option for Bates Students to have.

Unlike the Den, Commons is not designed for introverts. Its large tables marked with a specific number of chairs suggest a large party fill them, and there is no physical privacy from one table to the next. In addition, because Commons gets so busy during lunch and dinner times, occupying one table individually excludes others from finding a table conveniently located close to the food stations. The tables upstairs are not any more private than  those downstairs, nor is the Fishbowl. The Green Room is the only place in which physical boundaries of privacy are demarcated by smaller tables and benches, yet it is one of the smallest parts of Commons, and its original purpose was not included to be a part of Commons. While having a singular dining commons is a hallmark not only of the Bates tradition, but also the Bates experience, it places a lot of social pressure on students to constantly engage with one another. The Den provides a haven of rest and recuperation for those who want to enjoy a meal in silence, to eat while catching up on homework, or to simply take their meal to go, which is prohibited by Commons. By requiring money from students instead of being a part of the meal plan, students are forced to place a monetary value on their privacy. Furthermore, privacy and alone time, as a part of meal time, are now commodified privileges that is only available to the students who can afford it, which is inherently problematic. If students want to eat enjoy their meals in silence or by themselves, they literally have to pay for it.

For this reason, it makes sense to include the Den in the Commons meal plan by either raising the meal plan price, or generating a point system that would work in the following ways: if a student only swipes into Commons one or two times, rather than three or more times a day, they are alotted a certain amount to spend at the Den as a part of their meal plan. This would also benefit students who have dietary restrictions and have trouble finding what they need in Commons because of these restrictions. This would also remove pressure from Commons to satisfy every single need of every individual student, which can not only be overwhelming, but is also a farfetched idea.