Questions were raised among Augustana students and faculty when a pool table appeared in the Huddle this semester.
The table was originally located in the Back Alley, where it was used primarily for storage. With funds from UBG and Sodexo, the table was refurbished with a new top, balls and cues, and was moved to the Huddle.
“We’re trying to change the direction of the Huddle a bit,” Jay Rice of Augustana dining services said. Rice hopes the addition of the pool table will create a different atmosphere for students.
According to Rice, the purpose of the Huddle was never to provide an alternative study venue. It was originally designed as an area where students could gather to relax with friends after a long day of classes and grab a snack or a meal if the main dining room was closed.
“The Huddle was a good second option for studying or meeting with groups if you wanted to take a break from the library,” senior Kelsey Junget said. “With the pool table in there now it is another distraction and takes away tables that were used by students. I don’t like it in there.”
The retail section of the Huddle is open from 8 a.m. until midnight during the week and from noon until midnight on weekends. The grill operates on more limited hours, but the seating area is always open.
“A pool table provides an opportunity to take a fun break from studying or an easy place to hang out if it’s a late night,” freshman Tanner Williams said.
According to Rice, the goal of the pool table is not to downplay the importance of studying. Augustana’s campus offers numerous places for students to gather and study, but few places exist for students to simply hang out.
The Mikkelson Library is open until midnight during the week. Residence halls have lounges, as well as dayrooms on each floor. Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the Siverson Lounge offers a place to work without the enforced silence of the library.
Students are welcome to study in the Huddle, but its main purpose is to cater to students seeking a place to unwind, Rice said.
“I think it’s a complete waste of time studying there,” freshman Kwesi Asmah said. “Only 20 percent of the work will be done. The pool table suits the purpose of the Huddle–a hangout and talk zone, not a study area.”
However, Rice said he has mostly heard positive responses from students regarding the addition of the pool table and has not noticed that the atmosphere is any more crowded or chaotic.
“I think having a pool table is kind of a cool idea. For some people looking to study, it could be distracting, but I can just tune things out. It depends on my mood and what I have to get done,” junior Courtney Storm said.
Rice anticipates eventually incorporating foosball and shuffleboard into the room as well. He also hopes to spark interest in a monthly billiards tournament.