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Villanova Needs More Third Places

Connelly+Center+is+the+hub+of+all+student+life.
Brian Luppy
Connelly Center is the hub of all student life.

After a dreadful hour and fifteen minutes, your first class is finally over. A wave of relief rushes over you, a feeling of completion. But, not so fast. You still have one class left, and even better, you have a 45 minute-break in between. The entire campus is at your fingertips. How will you fill this free space in your day? Well, you’re not hungry, so you can’t go to any of the dining halls. You don’t have any work to do, so you can’t go to the library. And 45 minutes are not enough time to return to your dorm and settle into its comfort. 

Aha, you will go to the Connelly Center.

With a variety of seating from the Belle Aire terrace to the spacious couches, a playlist resounding of 2000s coffee house music and the sound of lively conversation sparking from every corner of the building, Conn is the perfect place to simply exist. Conn brings forth no expectations. Although some students are eating, while others are studying, in this space, it is socially acceptable to do neither. Likewise, it is not an academic building, which provides a break from the hustle and bustle of Villanova’s rigorous academic culture. Conn is the perfect oasis. Here, you can sit by yourself and mindlessly scroll, catch up with a friend or even make new friends. 

“For my friends and [me], Conn serves as the place we can recuperate throughout the day, taking our minds off of our busy lives,” freshman Sophia Lutzker said. “We can sit on the couches and just be ourselves.”

But, what happens when the seemingly endless seating opportunities of Conn are all filled up? Where do you go now? 

Every other space on campus comes with an expectation, whether monetary (such as a meal swipe) or an activity (such as completing school work or exercising). Conn is the only third place on campus. 

A third place is a place in one’s life that is not a workplace or home. It is a place one can go regularly and poses no expectations, other than to simply be. Third places are vital to one’s mental health as they serve to facilitate social interaction, are free from expectations of productivity and encourage public relaxation. 

With American culture fixated on productivity, third places are essential to fostering healthy mental habits and activity. However, with the internet growing increasingly more prominent in daily life and interaction, third places are dwindling. 

Malls are left vacant, developments are replacing parks and places that were once free of charge are adding high price tags on entry. Society is becoming increasingly lonely without third places as social hubs. Overworked individuals have nowhere to escape, nowhere they can build new connections outside of those they work and live with. The increasingly widespread mental health crisis among society is often attributed to technology and social media, however, the lack of third places in society can also take credit. The decrease of third places in the U.S. is a serious problem, especially considering that it is one many people fail to recognize. 

This same societal issue exists here on campus. Villanova students place extensive pressure upon themselves to do well in their classes, to be actively involved in clubs and to serve their community. Third places are crucial to overworked students, and when Conn fills up, students have nowhere to unwind. Not only that, but Conn can serve as a space where students build new connections outside of their social and academic circles.

  “I actually met some of my closest friends while spending time on [the] couches of Conn,” Lutzker said. “I probably never would have met them otherwise.”

The rigorous academic culture students face invokes overwhelming feelings of stress, and students need a third place to cope. With their current plans of renovation and expansion, Villanova should heavily consider including another project to its agenda: the creation of an additional third place because Conn is not enough. When the new Vic Maggitti Library is constructed, Villanova should turn the current Falvey Library into a new student center. 

Despite being an overlooked and unheard issue, the lack of third places at Villanova needs to be addressed. College students face incredibly high expectations and they should not have to face expectations from every environment. Although they may seem small, third places are extremely important for wellbeing. Villanova students deserve more third places, as it will not only increase their happiness, but their entire quality of life.

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