By Cate Carrejo
After extensive renovations to the space throughout June and July, including new signs, anti-theft security devices and a retail counter, the new bookstore opened on Aug. 8. The bookstore’s relocation had been in the works for quite some time, according to Marco Valera, vice president of facilities management. At the heart of the University’s decision was concern for student life. “There was a need for additional seating [in the McGinley Cafeteria] at peak times,” said Valera. “O’Keefe really stood out as the place that would accommodate the bookstore, because the location seemed ideal for students, visitors and parents.”
The location change is not ideal for many students, however. The news came as a surprise to many people, as the University did not give the student body advanced notice of the change. “I think the new bookstore is nice, but we needed O’Keefe Commons for other things,” said Jasmine Breeland, FCRH ‘17. “They should have asked for student input before just changing it.”
The bookstore is now much further away from the freshman residence halls than last year, alienating the bookstore’s main cliental. “It’s a little annoying to have to walk that far, especially for us freshmen, who are at the literal opposite end of campus,” said Anastasia Lacina, FCRH ‘19.
Nathalia Simonetti, FCRH ‘17, agreed. “It’s a hassle having to carry books all the way across campus [knowing] that it used to be half the distance,” she said.
The loss of such a large and important event space has not gone over well with some student leaders. The mismanagement of the Office of Student Leadership, which hindered many clubs and programs, has made some especially wary of the change. “It feels like the administration has taken this event space away from the students without giving us a viable alternative,” says Emma DeGrace, FCRH ‘17, event coordinator for the Ballroom Dance Club. “Anyone who has tried to schedule a big event knows we are tight on that kind of space.”
Andrew Mazzie, FCRH ‘17 and member of Fordham Flava, is frustrated by the loss of space that was so well-suited to performance groups that need lots of practice. “Last year, Flava’s practice rooms were often double booked with other groups,” he said. “O’Keefe was a good place to have because it could accommodate large groups when OSLCD double booked event space.”
But it seems the reign of the OSLCD is in the past. With its new moniker and staff members, leaders like Stephen Esposito, FCRH ‘17, orientation coordinator for the Office of Student Involvement, have found the refreshed department to be extremely cooperative. “O’Keefe Commons was a great event space for programs, however, I feel that moving the bookstore to that location will lead to a large growth in sales,” said Esposito. “While the space could have been very beneficial in the planning of New Student Orientation and my CAB programs, the Office of Student Involvement has been very helpful in finding alternative spaces on campus that would accommodate my needs and ultimately lead to the success of my events.”
Nina Cafone, FCRH ‘16 and advocacy and outreach chair for Autism Speak, said she understood the University’s decisions to move the bookstore location. “The clubs that held events in O’Keefe, like Autism Speaks, will have to move to a different room on campus but it shouldn’t be a problem,” she said. “[The Autism Speaks Executive Board] think the decision to move locations must have been necessary for Fordham.”
Of course, not all students mind the change either. The redesigned layout of the store, improved inventory and outdoor seating have all received positive reviews from students. “I like how the location is more visible now rather than when it was in the back of McGinley,” said Viviana Muniz, FCRH ‘19.
The staff of the new bookstore is welcoming the move as well. “My staff and I love the new location,” says Bookstore Manager Sidney Saviory. “It looks like a ‘real’ campus bookstore now. Our older space was a little tight and closed off. We hope that [the move] will create more foot traffic in the store and students will know that we are here to support them.”
While student reactions to the bookstore’s move are strongly mixed, the use of the old space may make up for the abrupt change. Valera also explained that the administration is working with student affairs to create additional dining space and possibly dining venues.