A student-led project team working to overhaul the Willard Straight Terrace Lounge hosted a pop-up party in the outdoor community area to showcase its potential as an interactive social space on April 30 and May 1.
The celebratory occasion featured food, alcohol and a dance floor that was a “last minute surprise,” according to Daniel Correa ’19, president and project manager of The Straight Edge, the student initiative comprised of eight students from diverse academic backgrounds that is leading the renovation of the 7,000 square feet space.
The renovation project featured a wide selection of activities, including a giant Jenga tower, the Thread Magazine launch party, performances from the Cornell Pep band, and food events such as Sencha Matcha Tasting.
The two-day event began with a competition hosted by the Cornell Sustainable Enterprise Association where participant devised sustainable solutions for Cornell, according to the event’s Facebook page.
Correa said his team modeled the rooftop space after New York city rooftop lounges as “people in crowded cities look to [urban rooftop spaces] as a place to escape.”
The two-day event attracted “way larger of a turnout” that included graduate students, freshmen undergraduates and faculty members, according to Correa. He also claimed that the fact that students were doing homework as the party was going on was testament to the versatility of the outdoor space.
The alcohol service provided during the afternoons, one of the bigger worries of The Straight Edge team, also proved to be a huge success. The afternoon “really just showed that we are adults and that we know how to self-regulate, things were perfectly fine,” Correa told The Sun.
“We were anxious to see the mix between the people of age and the people that weren’t, and it was completely respected,” Correa said. “[The staff from Cornell Catering] were IDing … nobody ever crossed the line, there were wristbands, three-drink maximums. It was really great to see people having an educated, casual beer in a civil setting.”
According to a survey taken during the event, students provided positive feedback and mentioned how “This [the pop-up event] feels like a student union […] It’s bringing people from all walks into the space” and “I didn’t realize I needed a place to take a break, I should be studying, but I’d rather be here.”
Correa said he was amazed by the inter-connectedness that the space promoted and the interactions between “such a rich and diverse group of people on campus” across class years and identities.
“I think we really demonstrated the potential within the space,” Correa said. “Everybody felt welcome. That was the beauty of the space — nobody felt out of space. There was nobody that was there that you would say “you don’t belong here”.
“All it took was some new furniture, some music, some lighting, and some drinks. And the space completely transformed the campus dynamic in a way that far surpassed our expectations,” Correa added.
Looking to the future, the student project team seeks even greater funding to continue their renovation project, according to Correa.
The Straight Edge team also hoped that “in the future, people will be booking this space for similar events and seeing the potential that it has. There’s this magnificent space that can be booked by any student or any organization for free,” Correa told The Sun.