Drew students had a lot more fun in the eighties. But they also had more resources and spaces—like basement cafés—in order to do so. Now, students are lacking a space to hang out and eat late into the night—no, the C-Store does not count. Yes, it provides food, but not the ambiance and the space to enjoy your night. Drew should bring back The Other End, also known as TOE, as an accessible, laid back, stress free area for students.
The Other End was marketed as “an escape from Drew” according to an Acorn article from Jan. 21, 1986, which was also the opening date of the café. The cafe sold coffee and late night snacks and it was entirely student run.
Students and faculty were invited to hang out in the space, which created opportunities for students to engage with professors in a casual setting. There were also live performances, allowing students to share their talents.
This brilliant idea came from Buzz McLaughlin, who thought the unused space in the Sitterly basement would be a perfect spot for a Greenwich Village type coffee shop.
McLaughlin and 70 other students worked to clean and prep the basement before it was ready for other renovations and installations. It took 5 months to prepare the space for opening.
A large number of faculty also gave their support in various ways to The Other End. Collaboration with the Commons bake shop, budget control and donations were managed by faculty members in the 80s.
While the C-Store provides late night snacks for students, there are no places to sit and chat. One can argue that students can take their snacks and hang out in a dorm room or lounge, but this creates boundaries for certain students.
For example, commuter students without access to dorm lounges cannot hang out in these places late at night unless they have a friend that can open the door for them.
The C-Store is also out of the way for a lot of resident students living in dorms like Asbury and Hoyt. So, although Sitterly is tucked in a corner of campus, it is one of the easier places to get to on campus for a lot of students. For students in Tolley-Brown circle, the walk back from Sitterly to their dorm would not be pleasant, but that opens up the conversation to adding another space like TOE that is on the hill.
A place like TOE was and can be again a neutral space accessible to everyone. It would be like Peet’s after dark. It would be unlike any other space on campus, diversifying and adding to Drew’s allure. TOE has the possibility to attract new students who might have been on the fence about Drew by promoting campus life and community.
TOE also provided a space where departments and clubs could host events that fit the intimate ambiance they sought.The space was used for slam poetry nights, speaker events, Dia de los Muertos gatherings and more. It was not just a space for students to engage with one another, grab a coffee, and do some homework. It was a space where Drew’s culture was created.
If not TOE, then something else, but we need more spaces at Drew for students to de-stress, relax and socialize. A place that does not exclude anyone. A place for residents, commuters and faculty.
The re-opening of TOE could be the most exciting thing to happen at Drew in a long time. Let us bring back the 80s energy, make Buzz McLaughlin proud and open up the funky, bohemian café again.