When you go to the Hub at Claremont McKenna College what do you expect to see? ESPN playing on the two televisions? Check. Leftover pieces of chicken tenders and curly fries on the tables? Check. A very disproportionate guy to girl ratio? Most definitely check.
The Hub seems designed specifically to satisfy the ‘bro culture’ at the college. Over the past six months I’ve spent at CMC, my time at the Hub has rapidly diminished as I feel more and more out of place going there. CMC is known to embrace bro-esque behavior, and the Hub is the ultimate example of why this culture exists.
I am not saying that we need to work to make the Hub more female-friendly, but instead work towards “un-bro-ing” our convenient hangout spot. It’s not just CMC girls who tend to stay away, but also guys who aren’t loving the ever-present bro culture. As much as I wish I could quantify bro presence, I can’t. What I can and will do is look at the ratio of guys and girls at the Hub and other 5C cafes to provide evidence that the Hub appeals largely to a male-oriented bro culture. The Hub doesn’t exclude girls, but it isn’t exactly the most welcoming place to females and non-‘bro’ males. Here’s why. Let’s break it down piece by piece:
The first thing that comes to my mind when I think ‘Hub’ is an outdated man-cave. For goodness sake, there are framed portraits of CMC athletic teams hanging on the walls. I totally agree that the furniture was awesome in 1992, but it is 2011 and the tacky retro look has got to go. Those gritty couches don’t exactly make for a fun hangout spot. I am not saying I want the Hub to turn into a girly hangout place. I went to the Motley and left within a minute after looking at the jar of tampons for sale and Diva Cups by the register. That might be overcompensating. But it’s true that the Hub atmosphere could be improved with some small changes. The Coop, for example, is a perfect example of chic, clean design that everyone can enjoy. It’s tidy and not so blatantly sports-themed. That is what the Hub needs: a change in ambiance and décor to allow for everyone’s comfort.
In case you don’t believe that the Hub is disproportionately “bro,” I decided to do some research:
For one week I spent my afternoons at the Hub from 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 pm. On weekends and weeknights, I popped in from time to time as well. I also compared the guy to girl ratios in the other 4 college’s cafes, including Pomona’s Coop, Scripps’s Motley Coffeehouse, Pitzer’s Pit-Stop Café, and Harvey Mudd’s Jay’s Place (The Muddhole).
I started on a Monday and walked in at 2:30 pm to take a headcount: 10 girls, 35 boys. I hoped Tuesday would be better. Nope. 13 girls. 32 boys. Wednesday 14 girls, 38 boys.
I know my data collection isn’t the most perfect, nor by any means thesis-worthy, but those numbers should make you stop and think. On four random days, the ratio was always more than twice the amount of boys to girls. On weeknights it was even worse. I walked in on a Wednesday night to find 9 boys watching Sports Center and two girls sitting at a back table. That same Wednesday night, I walked into the Coop and saw 18 boys and 16 girls. Much better. The Friday before my investigation ended, I went to all five cafés to compare girls to guys. The Muddhole 3:5, Pit-Stop 8:11, The Coop 18:30, The Motley (I stopped counting after the zero-eth boy), and The Hub 5: 13.
Every time I went to the Hub in the past week, there were at least twice as many guys as girls. Sure I could just walk to the Coop or the Pit-Stop, but it’s a hassle, and I am a CMCer. Why should I go to another campus’s student center to feel comfortable?
Cleanliness is definitely not the Hub’s forte. Walking in and seeing tables dripped with leftover grease from fried foods, chicken tenders in the couches, and the remnants of last week’s curly fries all over the floor doesn’t inspire much confidence in the Hub’s upkeep. I don’t think the problem is the staff. People just don’t always seem to pick up after themselves. Maybe most Hub regulars do not care, but after speaking to all my girl friends, we all agree that such an environment is gross. Of all my girl friends surveyed, none eat in the Hub at all and noted the leftover trash as reason enough to avoid spending time there.
Admit it: every time you walk into the Hub or anywhere near it the smell smell of fried food lingerings. It is no secret that the Hub’s menu is not the most health conscious. Sure there are wraps and paninis, but everything else on the menu is either a sandwich, burger, or fried-something. Granted, that fried-something has a place in everyone’s heart on a Thursday night, but it would be nice to have more variety on the menu like salads, fruit, bagels, or muffins. One time, I asked for a fruit salad and, in return, I got a big slice of cantaloupe. Even the way the food is presented–big portions slapped onto paper plates–could also be more appealing.
The lack of variety on the two television screens in the Hub is another gripe. The TV is always–let me repeat–ALWAYS playing ESPN. Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes, I want to watch ESPN. Since the NBA season is finally back on, I’ll be perched on those grimy Hub couches and armchairs for the game. But having sports channels on from the minute the Hub opens until closing hours is excessive. The addition of another TV would allow for more viewing options, perhaps to watch non-sports shows. With more options, the Hub is far more conducive to everyone’s entertainment tastes. More important than adding viewing variety, however, is the need to get rid of the “channel-changing” stigma. Doesn’t it say something about Hub culture when changing the channel from Sports Center is considered near sinful, even when it’s playing on both TV screens?
This “Hub-Makeover” is in everyone’s interest. I think most guys like it when there are girls around, and most girls like it when they can get a bite to eat without their conversations being drowned out by sports news broadcasters. It’s important to remember that the Hub is CMC’s student center and should feel that way for every student, not just for CMC ‘bros.’ The Hub has the potential to be a hotspot where everyone could be equally happy with just these few minor adjustments. Until then, looks like I’m hanging out elsewhere.