Students fill Friedman Study Center for grand opening

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Friedman Study Center felt more like a nightclub than a library last night at the celebration that officially marked its opening.

Hundreds of students filled the 27,000-square-foot space nearly to capacity, ignoring the signs prescribing decibel levels for the center’s quiet study areas. A dance music soundtrack blasted from the reference desk as students enjoyed free pizza, cake and hot chocolate amid computer clusters and bright new furniture.

University Librarian Harriette Hemmasi, Interim Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services Russell Carey ’91 MA’06 and Undergraduate Council of Students President John Gillis ’07 all spoke briefly at the 11:30 p.m. ceremony about the significance of the new space.

Gillis said the Center was “filling a void we had at Brown” for a central 24-hour gathering place for students. Jackie Friedman ’08, whose parents Susan Pilch Friedman ’77 and Richard Friedman ’79 gave $4 million to create the center, cut a ceremonial red ribbon to mark the center’s completion. President Ruth Simmons and many other University officials attended the celebration.

Though many students said they attended the event for the party atmosphere and themed giveaways, they also noticed the changes that had transformed the basement of the Sciences Library into a colorful, open study space.

“I approve,” Chris Duffy ’09 said. Though Duffy said he rarely studies in the SciLi, he chose to attend the celebration for its offer of free food and took the opportunity to explore the center.

“There’s a couch that looks like a lima bean,” he said.

“It’s very modern,” Margaret Pletkinoff GS said of the new decor. The iPod raffle drew her to the celebration and convinced her to set foot in the SciLi for the first time. But after seeing the space, she said that her first visit would not be her last.

“It’s a nice environment for studying,” Pletkinoff said.

Erin Donohue ’07, who also stopped by in hopes of winning the iPod, expressed a similar sentiment. She said that the center would be “great if you want to meet up with people.” Donohue said she had often studied at the SciLi before and now finds the space “much more accessible.”

Allison Kantor ’08, who attended the celebration to “support the Friedmans,” also said she appreciated the center’s newfound sense of warmth.

“It’s much more friendly, much less intimidating,” Kantor said. “I like the social aspect.”

Most of the crowd in the Friedman Center dispersed by midnight, though over a hundred students lingered in the space to chat and socialize. A few even settled down in the quieter parts of the room, opened their books and studied.