“Hanging out” could quite possibly be considered the official pastime of college students. Ask around campus and you’re likely to get the same answer. “What do you do when you’re not in class or studying?” “Hang out.” “What are you going to do this weekend?” “I don’t know, probably hang out.”
But as with anything, hanging out at the College has certainly evolved over the years.
Bill Wilkins ’50 remembers his years on campus as very structured and regimented. The College assigned each student’s class schedule, with some courses even being held on Saturdays. Other than stopping to pick up your mail at the assigned boxes in Green Hall, there wasn’t really a time during the day for casual hang time with friends.
“The only place you could really hang out for any period of time was in the library, particularly in the evening,” he recalls. “This was good, especially if you had a date.” Why was the library such a popular hot spot? At that time, women had to be comfortably settled in their dorm rooms by 7 p.m.—that is unless they needed to “study” in the library, where they were permitted to stay until 9 p.m.
The library today is one of the major campus hubs, though not solely for after-hours rendezvous. The library is a one-stop shop for coffee, snacks, studying, napping, congregating, catching an event or two, and making photocopies or printing in hi-res color. For today’s multitasking student, hangouts need to be productive places, too.
Dan Rattacasa ’04 recalls the Brower Student Center as being his favorite place to hang out, procrastinate, and mooch off other people’s meal cards. Rattacasa, a baseball player, has fond memories of “The Stud”—the lower level congested with patrons ingesting their favorite meal at the Food Court, with different athletic teams monopolizing the tables closest to the food line in an effort to consume the vast amounts of calories necessary to maintain TCNJ’s NJAC legacy.
Steven Hammell ’75 remembers the The Pub was an especially popular hangout in the early 1970s when the drinking age was lowered to 18—conveniently during his sophomore year (1972). Since taking over as the campus watering hole, The Rat has remained a bustling hangout where frats, sororities, athletes, and everyone else can gather for food (and where you’ll actually be waited on!), drink, TV, and, at times, live music.
Other less official hangouts include the “Beach” near the tennis courts at Travers-Wolfe, where students often play volleyball and sunbathe, even on the not-so-warm days.
Although Melanie Weiss ’07 didn’t have just one preferred hangout spot, she and her friends spent much of their free time together in support of campus activities and each other, often hopping around to see each other’s theater performances, sporting events, late-nighters, and club fund-raisers and socials.
But perhaps the most popular place to hang out was and continues to be the residence halls. Grabbing a few (or 20) friends and squeezing into a dorm room for a night of laughs, Easy Mac, and Halo (both the video game and the ice cream) is a guaranteed memory-maker.
The old adage (and Dave Matthews Band lyric) is true when it comes to hanging out at the College: Turns out not where but who you’re with that really matters.