Fake leather chairs and neon colors bring energy to Campus Center

Marie Albu

If you’ve been to the Cafeteria this year you may have noticed a change in décor.

Thanks to John Lorelli, manager of the City College bookstore, the college now has new tables and chairs in two different heights as well as new laptop-ready lounge chairs, all part of Phase One of the Student Center remodel.

The dining tables and chairs are blue and orange plastic in the same style as bright green bar-height chairs and yellow tables. The blinding color scheme is fresh and modern, making it difficult to remember what the previous furniture looked like.

The laptop-ready lounge chairs have an attached swiveling table for students to place their laptops on as well an adjustable cup holder. These chairs also appear to be made of the same dark blue material as the new comfy lounge chairs with matching group footrests. The fake leather is so soft and supple it seems almost real.

And that’s not all, Phase Two will include painting, new floors, lighting, and carpet. The total projected cost is $242,000, which the Bookstore is donating, according to Leslie Griffin, financial controller for the college.

Lorelli has been saving the money in a state investment and savings account where he has been placing portions of revenue from the bookstore for 14 years.

The remodel, including a new “Cyber Center,” was initially presented by Jack Friedlander, executive vice president of educational programs. Friedlander said he proposed the idea to the Associated Student Senate, who immediately jumped on board.

“I was pleased to receive so much student support,” he said. “The senate sent me a formal proposal for the center. I was impressed they took the initiative to show they wanted it.”

The cyber center, which the bookstore will not be funding, will have 27 computers for student use and will be staffed by current school support staff to help students. Students will also be able to bring in laptops and access wireless internet, hence the laptop-ready lounge chairs. Friedlander says City College is currently looking for private funding for the Cyber Center.

Also new is noontime music. Live performers and bands are scheduled to entertain students in the cafeteria as they eat.

Friedlander said the focus of the project is a place to study on East Campus. It seems to be working as more and more students are flocking to the Cafeteria. Friedlander said he is “pleasantly surprised” at the difference the furniture alone has made.

Lorelli is also pleased at the results. “We wanted to make the cafeteria as nice as the rest of the campus. It was ugly and looked like vintage 1960’s. We wanted to make it a nice place to be,” he said.

Students enjoying the new furniture had varied opinions. McKenna Kline, a theatre major, liked more than just the furniture.

“This is my first time here in the cafeteria. It’s great and the food is totally edible and the prices are great, I got my whole lunch for under five dollars,” she said.

As for the improvements, she added “They’re really cool and they add some life to the place. I think East Campus is even prettier than West Campus in some ways.”

However, some students are wondering why the school is spending so much money on aesthetic improvements when fees are climbing and classes are overcrowded.

Amy Lovelace, a Liberal Studies major, said the old furniture was just fine. “The College shouldn’t waste money on this when money is tight. This stuff is easily ruined and will have to be replaced again in a few years,” she said in reaction to the cost of some of the items.

The laptop chairs, for example, carry the hefty price of $1,130 apiece.

Both the Cyber Center and the remodel for the Cafeteria should be completed over the summer in time for fall.

Said Friedlander, “It’s great that we’re able to give back directly to the students some of the revenue from the bookstore.”