$166k later, Goudy tent removed from Brown Field due to little student use
Updated: Feb 11
A muddy outline now exists where the Goudy tent used to be. Photo by Rebecca May.
As students returned to campus for the Spring 2021 semester, they noticed the dining tent on Brown Field known as the Goudy tent had been reduced to its frame. Then within the week, all that remained was an empty field with mud where the tent once stood.
The Goudy tent had been set up for extra covered dining space at the beginning of the Fall 2020 semester to help with the seating limits inside Goudy Commons. The tent was closed during Willamette’s first “quiet period” starting on Nov. 16 when indoor dining on campus was stopped in response to Governor Kate Brown’s [two week freeze]. [Restrictions against indoor dining] are still in place due to Marion County remaining in the “extreme risk” category as defined by the Oregon Health Authority (embed link in OHA).
The Reopening Operations Committee (ROC) said in an email, “The decision to remove the tent was made for a variety of reasons and was informed by feedback and reflections from students.” Feedback came from several different sources including first-year colloquium group discussions, as well as Student Affairs employees who had discussions with student leaders and student organizations. Bon Appetit staff were monitoring the use of the tent as well. The ROC had hoped for the tent to not only provide additional dining space to help ease crowding in Goudy Commons, but to give student organizations and athletic teams a place to meet. However, the Goudy tent was often entirely empty during dining periods. The ROC said they learned students did not feel inclined to or comfortable using the space during meal time. According to the ROC, some students from first year colloquium discussions thought the tent to be haunted either from being told or inferring this for themselves. Outside of mealtimes, meetings were not taking place in the tent, the ROC believes the social gathering limit played a role in this . Most student organizations moved to virtual events for the Fall 2020 semester, thus not utilizing the tent as a meeting space. Social gatherings were initially restricted to only ten people for the majority of the Fall 2020 semester, with the limit later becoming six when the statewide two-week freeze took effect on Nov. 18. The six-person limit is still in effect.
The total cost of the tent for the academic year was $166,120. This amount includes the cost of the structure, flooring, heaters, lights and furniture. This number does not include some minor maintenance costs that occurred.
With the Goudy tent not being utilized, the ROC took it down as they were unable to justify the cost of the tent with it being mostly unused. The ROC said the Goudy tent is unlikely to come back: “At this time, we do not plan to bring the tent back if the county or state restrictions change or ease. We believe the Goudy dining hall and outdoor space should provide enough options for students once in-person dining is allowed. We will of course continue to monitor the situation and revisit this decision if needed.”