By ELIZA GUION
Reports that construction for the Robson Arena would break ground during the 2018–19 school year have students wondering why they haven’t seen any wrecking balls taken to the hallowed halls of the Colorado College Inn yet.
It turns out the project is still in the planning and design phase, with a series of upcoming community meetings scheduled to help guide the process. Do you count yourself among those with questions or concerns about CC’s latest multi-million dollar building endeavor? Now is the time to make your voice heard.
Initially proposed as an on-campus practice rink after alumnus Ed Robson ’54’s $8 million donation in 2016, the arena is now slated to be a 3,000-seat venue, replacing the Broadmoor World Arena as Tiger hockey’s permanent home. A partnership with Colorado Springs’ City for Champions initiative has enabled this more expansive plan, which will cost an estimated $39 million. Groundbreaking is projected for late 2019, with the arena set to open sometime in 2021.
The school recently announced that it has contracted N.E.S. Inc, a Springs-based landscape architecture and urban design firm, to spearhead planning and design moving forward. Colorado College’s Director of Sustainability Ian Johnson said it was too early in the process to comment on the potential effects of the arena on CC’s proclaimed sustainability goals.
At this nascent stage of design, there’s still space for student voices and opinions to hold real weight. Already, students have shed light on serious concerns with the project. One student, who wished to remain anonymous, said they became involved when they realized that plans for the arena had “skirted the design review board and were put directly into the hands of the Board of Trustees.”
“I realized that students had no information, and tried to advocate for student interests,” they said. At the forefront of their mind were issues of accessibility and inclusivity: “Our biggest concern was how it would affect already marginalized students on this campus.” They articulated apprehension about the proposed benefits of having a rink on campus; “We feel the project might recentralize hockey culture and negatively impact our community,” they said.
After voicing these concerns to school administration, this student felt disheartened. “I would do more, but after all the steps I’ve gone through, the school is really not interested in what I have to say,” they explained. “At least we got our point across.”
They were hopeful, however, that fellow students might continue the work. “Maybe other people will pick it up,” they said, explaining that some peers had reached out showing interest and support after hearing about their concerns.
Deksyos Damtew ’22, one of the students on the newly-formed Robson Arena Campus Committee, was more positive about the ability for students to influence planning and design. He described committee meetings as “super accessible.” “No one is really shutting down student’s opinions,” he said. “It’s an open space and comments are freely shared.”
When asked about any worries moving forward, he replied, “One of the concerns is obviously going to be making sure that the community is okay with having it. And then also just usage of the arena outside of just hockey,” alluding to problems surrounding accessibility and inclusivity.
He called for student input on making the arena a multi-use space: “That’s something that we will be moving forward with and getting more students’ opinions on — what they want to do with the ice arena, and what activities we can have,” he said. “President Tiefenthaler has actually talked about the idea that we could use it for a wide variety of things, and if we could get some student input on that, that would be great.”
Damtew outlined a couple ways to make your opinions heard. “Just contacting me or CCSGA,” he said. “Zac [Schulman] is also a great resource. I plan on holding an information session, where students can come out and voice their concerns, or get out there and say what they want to see happen with the arena.” Stay tuned for details on that front.
“Another good way is showing up to those community meetings,” said Damtew. “It would be interesting to have students there, to hear what their perspectives are, and for them to also understand what the community concerns are.”
The next community meeting is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 16, unfortunately falling over Block Break, when many students are off campus. The first community meeting was also held at an inopportune time for student input, occurring in early January over the school’s winter break.
These scheduling issues prompted a critique from our anonymous whistle-blower. “The fact that the public meetings are all over breaks is just really dumb. They obviously have an agenda. But I’m hoping the people on this board will do outreach and figure out how it can benefit marginalized students on this campus and figure out ways it can be multipurpose. I want to see specific goals from them.”
Following the release of the initial results of the External Review of Racism at CC and the recent presentation by Dr. Roger L. Worthington, the new hockey arena provides an interesting test case to see how the school will respond to critiques about inclusion and accessibility.
The next community workshop will be held second Saturday of Block 6, Mar. 2, when more students will surely be on campus. It’s scheduled from 10:30 a.m. to noon at the Tutt Library, so mark your calendars, folks! If you’re keen on influencing CC’s latest big-budget building plans, the time is now.