Bates students return to busy campus

The class of 2001 will be welcomed to Bates on Aug. 26 by the sounds of jackhammers as construction crews continue a number of renovation and building projects on campus. Classes begin Sept. 3. As construction workers proceed with building the college’s state-of-the art academic building overlooking Lake Andrews, a student body of 1,650 students will encounter a new coffeehouse on Frye Street and a refurbished Den in Chase Hall.

Numbering about 470, the entering class of 2001 features students from 35 states and 14 countries. Scholastically, 36 percent of the class ranked within the top five percent of their high school graduating class, the highest percentage since institutional data became available in 1981. Fifty-six percent of the first-year students are from New England, consistent with recent years, while applications from Maine students showed a 10-percent increase. Multicultural students make up nine percent of the class and more than half of the Class of ’01 is receiving some form of financial aid.

Owned by the college since 1939, 32 Frye St. is being converted into a student-operated coffeehouse for members of the Bates community and their guests. The 4,000 square foot building is the site where local construction workers recently discovered civil war-era correspondence between Bates professor Uriah Balkam and his wife, Annie. Upon completion this fall, the capacity of the two-story house will be in excess of 250 people. The coffeehouse will provide additional social options to students in a non alcoholic setting.

Renovation work is being done by Ouellet Construction of Brunswick in conjunction with Bates College Facility Services crews. Until the recent renovations, the Bates-owned house was used as a dual-family dwelling. The house will be wheelchair-accessible on the first level, where some of the walls have been removed to create an open, airy ambiance. A room for smoking patrons will also be available.

The student-run operation will feature student programming and a menu offering a variety of coffees and pastries. “We’re really excited about the possibilities for this informal space within our community and look forward to an additional, relaxed setting where students, faculty and staff can gather,” said Peter Taylor, assistant dean of students at Bates.

The coffeehouse is expected to open sometime at the start of the 1997-98 academic year. Second-floor renovations are incomplete, but at some later date, upstairs meeting rooms will be used by student groups and organizations. The house has been connected on both floors to the garage, formerly a barn, which will be used as a performance area on the first floor, and a gallery upstairs.

Renovations at the Den in Chase Hall include new music equipment and a big screen TV in addition to enhanced food production including a conveyor oven for hot sandwiches, nachos, buffalo wings and small pizzas as well as the establishment of a pub with limited hours when beer will be served to those 21 and over. Proper identification will be required at the door, where bracelets will be distributed differentiating between those 21 years of age and older and minors. Wait staff will take orders at the tables, checking bracelet identifications and ensuring that minors are not served.

Pub clientele will be limited to members of the Bates community and their guests. Initially, the pub will operate on Fridays and Saturdays between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. with beer service ending at 1 a.m. Managed by dining services at Bates, “the pub’s operation will be in strict compliance with Maine liquor laws,” Taylor said. The Den will continue to operate as a snack bar during the day, serving breakfast and lunch.

More than 50 local businesses have been invited to participate in the annual Merchants Fair Sept. 4 in the Clifton Daggett Gray Athletic Building for a day-long display of merchandise and services available to Bates students.

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