While the construction is coming to an end within Alma College’s Learning Commons, more has started in McIntyre Mall, most commonly called among students: Mac Mall. Although Mac Mall is just a courtyard, it has become a central hub for the students at Alma College. Because of the importance of Mac Mall, students are concerned that it will not look the same after construction.
With beautiful maroon walkways, benches and memorial trees throughout, Mac Mall was a nice space for students to meet up with friends, an occasional gallery for Alma College’s art students and a good space for professors to hold class sessions when the weather permitted. The recent events of revamping the learning commons have turned this beloved space into a wasteland.
Alma College offers the ability for people to create a memorial for special occasions and loved ones. In Mac Mall, these memorials were often in the form of a tree. Based on the Alma College website, these memorials are a lasting tribute to those who the trees are dedicated to, yet when the construction started, those trees were removed. It is disheartening to see these “lasting memorials” so readily ripped out of the ground.
Based on an email from Jeff Abernathy on tentative end dates on construction, Mac Mall is not scheduled to be completed until mid-April; however, the advancement in Mac Mall’s remodel has not been promising. With the lack of color and greenery, this once lively courtyard has become sterile.
The first place that first-year students explore on campus is Mac Mall. Tartan 101, the three-day long introduction to Alma College for first year students, starts there each day. There are a multitude of events and traditions that incorporate Mac Mall like the scavenger hunt during Tartan 101 and the pumpkin that found its way on top of the spike each October. With the presence of construction, these traditions are at risk.
Mac Mall’s legacy extends past the students’ first year as well. Organizations like Active Minds and ACUB (Alma College Union Board) used this space to promote and housetheirevents.Specifically, the old entrance structure to the Learning Commons was used to hang banners made by these organizations. This was a way to get information out to the students and without it, promoting events has become increasingly difficult.
“ACUB has used Mac Mall to advertise for upcoming events we were putting on throughout the year. We have also done tabling in Mac Mall to spread information events,” said Elaina Gross (’25), a staff member of ACUB. Mac Mall had an active art scene. “Mac Mall
has been used as a location for art installations during Art Prize or collaborative outdoor space between the dance program and art program”, said Jillian Dickson, Assistant Professor of Art and Design at Alma College. Although Mac Mall’s final look is unknown, the current lack of a community creative space is detrimental to the students.
The unknown outcome of Mac Mall is discouraging, but a fresh start allows the college to listen to its staff and students about their needs. “I love well-designed, luxurious community spaces and when it is obvious that investment is going to community spaces, and not private spaces”, said Dickson.
“I personally hope that this new space will be more welcoming and accessible to all people. I hope it will be a comfortable space for students to use,” said Gross.