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A view of the Hub and it's hearty meal offerings

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:

A view of the Hub and it's hearty meal offering

Atmosphere

The first thing that comes to my mind when I think ‘Hub’ is an outdated man-cave.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.

The Ratio

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

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.

Sportscasters are a regular feature at the Hub

 

Menu

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.

 

Television

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.

25 COMMENTS

  1. Senate’s Campus Life Committee along with our Student Spaces Task Force are working with DOS to renovate the Hub this semester, and we’re considering some of the stuff you propose. Thanks for your ideas. If you have more thoughts, shoot me an email: [email protected]

  2. The culture at CMC is, to use your term, “bro-esque.” It’s one of the things that makes our school unique: there are few colleges that’re full of bright, driven young men and women who also like to party hard, watch tons of sports, and eat fried foods. The Hub’s atmosphere is bro-oriented because the people are, not the other way around. And there are other CMC institutions that are more feminine, but you don’t see us complaining that the SLC Gossip Girl screenings are attended disproportionately by girls. If you don’t like the atmosphere at the Hub, don’t go. There is, as you point out, a perfectly good alternative in the Coop.

  3. The difference between the feminine leanings of SLC Gossip Girl viewing nights and the bro-esque atmosphere of the Hub is: the former is provided on a weekly or monthly basis in a classroom/auditorium setting. The Hub is a central student center open daily; its presence is more dominant in influencing student and campus life overall. The other “more feminine” CMC student spaces are not consistently available and far less abundant when compared to their more masculine counterparts.   

    • My big question is why this is being spoken about in terms of “feminine” and “masculine”. That’s silly. Truly, it’s absurd to think of the HUB as a masculine space. Yes, on a random sample the person writing this article saw more guys, but I’ve had plenty of days when I’ve gone into the hub and there were all of two guys and several clusters of girls, so that’s not always the case. Yeah, when it’s meal time or when there’s a game on it’s maybe got more of a “masculine”culture, but who said sports are a guy thing? I think a lot of our female athletes would beg to differ.

      Stop quibbling about social constructs. Talking about health of the food is constructive. Talking about “masculinity” and “femininity” is really not.

  4. As a girl, I’ve never had a problem with the disproportionate amount of males, the ESPN on the television, or the cleanliness of the HUB. You’re a freshman, so maybe you had different expectations of a student center, but each student center is representative of something different. You can call ours “bro-esque” all you want, but if you prefer the Coop, go and hang out at the Coop. Nothing’s stopping you, and if you’d rather watch the news all the time than sports all the time, that’s your prerogative.

    As far as turning the HUB into the Coop, that’s ridiculous. We don’t need a bunch of identical spots. The Motley wouldn’t be the Motley if it looked just like the Coop. Jay’s Place doesn’t look just like the Motley for a good reason. The HUB, while it may need an update in furniture (although those couches are mega-comfy… the Ath update has led to an extreme decline in lounging comfort), more than two televisions in that small of a space would be a bit much. As far as taking down the pictures of athletes on the walls… what for? We’re proud of CMS sports. Why shouldn’t we have a place to showcase those photos that you don’t have to trudge all the way down to the gym for?

    In regards to the menu, yeah, it’s not the healthiest thing on the planet. If you want healthy food, you could always eat somewhere else, or you could get a wrap, sandwich, salad (YES, they do have salads), etc. So they serve it on paper plates. So what? It’s not five-star dining. It’s convenience eating. The people are friendly, the food is made timely, and it’s right on our campus. When I’m not in the mood for HUB food, I’ll go to the Coop, sure, but it’s really not that far away. You came to a consortium. Going to another campus to hang out or eat isn’t that big of a deal. It’s actually a great social opportunity.

    No, you’re right, you shouldn’t have to. But you don’t have to. Nobody’s making you leave.

    • I don’t have the choice to go somewhere other than the hub if I’m on meal replacement. So no, if I want something healthy, I can’t always go somewhere else. I’m not saying all the hub’s food is awful, but that’s worth considering. Not all of us are awash in spending money on food and flex. 

      • There is, however, a dining hall. At lunch, you’ve got many dining halls and pizza if you’re in a rush. At dinner, you’ve got a multitude of dining halls as well. Trust me, I’m certainly NOT awash in spending money, and I’ve got no more flex than the next person, but if that’s the case, then just get something healthier, if that’s your concern. It’s not meant to be something students use every day anyway.

      • I suppose the real change SHOULD be that students ought to be able to use meal replacement at the Coop and Jay’s Place and all other places that offer this to their students. It’s a great system, and it should be 5C, just like we can use our meals anywhere. That would solve a lot of problems right there.

    • I agree! When choosing which of the 5Cs to go to, one of the things I loved was the cultural differences you see campus to campus at the non dining hall food places. 

  5. no one will ever change anything about the hub for the next two years. this is the most pointless article i have ever read geeze go have another god damn great night hanging out at the motley..

  6. Charlotte, what is your problem? We all know the hub is a bro fest and it is disgusting…..so I’m glad that you enjoy eating off of the greasy tables with fried food coming on the reg but give this girl a break. This girl is right a change is needed and I don’t think that your snarky comments are doing anyone justice. 

    • I’m not being snarky, I’m being honest. It’s really not that big of a “bro fest” as you call it. Yes, it could do with people cleaning up after themselves. Name somewhere that couldn’t. Even the Coop is only clean because the people that work there come out and wipe down tables, or it would look just the same. The HUB isn’t the problem there, the problem there is a general lack of respect for shared property. If you live in the dorms, I’m sure you know what I mean. At CMC, we’re so used to someone else cleaning up after our mess that we’re too lazy to do it ourselves, and the HUB has suffered from that, I’ll grant you. But making the HUB more “feminine” or changing the menu aren’t going to make a difference there.

  7. No  change is needed the hub is the last redeeming thing about cmc. if u dont like it don’t go there. you obviously don’t understand the atmosphere. let us hubbbers have our damn haven away from you cmcers whose conversation at the dining halls consists of internships and other b.s. The hub is a get away and let’s leave it that way.

  8. Atmosphere and gender ratio aside (which I really have no problem with), the thing that’s most disappointing about the Hub is how the service and food quality have declined. Before I returned from abroad, staff were accommodating when I didn’t want to use one of those pointless menu sheets just to order a quesadilla. The daytime staff is still pretty good, but the evening staff waited 10 minutes before emerging from the back kitchen the other day; they served me half-frozen mozzarella sticks another time; and a third time they served me cold chicken tenders that had been sitting out for lord knows how long. Ugh!

    • AMEN to this! One time I was HAMMERED and really needed some mozzarella sticks and the late-night guy insisted that I use the “ordering form”.
      Hey man, screw you, I really need some food or there’s going to be a problem.
      –“Just go get a form, they’re right over there.”
      I can’t fu-king find the forms, bro.
      –“They’re over there. You have to fill one out or you can’t order.”
      (picking up the sandwich order form)… Under the “Other” category I scribbled something like:
      MORZL STICKS
      Some unknown amount of time later, I got mozzarella sticks and watched SportsCenter West Coast (it was very late at night, mind you). Success.

  9. i like the balance that the hub reaches between bar and restaurant. It offers unhealthy food but that food is always clutch. Tell me I’m wrong when I say that chicken tenders at 1 am do not come through. however, I would like to see the tv not on ESPN, but what can I say? I’m a dreamer. I dream big. I go hard. 

  10. Some thoughts:
    -CMC has a higher proportion of males than females.
    -You can change the channels on the TVs if you want.  I do it all the time.
    -You probably should have used the Shakedown (which is definitely the best cafe on the 5Cs) as opposed to the Pit-Stop as Pitzer’s main cafe.  Just sayin.

  11. I agree with “senior”: If you want to change the channel. then change it. However, as most of us have discovered, sports are one of few programming options that you can watch with little to no volume, so it’s a good default to just leave on for people who are not staying for a full-length show.

    Also, I understand that in YOUR opinion, there are changes that you would like to see be made to the Hub in order to better reflect YOUR opinions and preferences (and maybe some other peoples’ as well). But, as your evidence shows, there are quite a few “bros” who are perfectly content with the status quo. What makes your preferences more valuable than theirs? As you said, there might be some cleanliness/service issues which everyone would agree need to be addressed, but making the “atmosphere” better for you may mean making it worse for someone else. How do you justify this?

    I suppose we could put it to a vote, but please don’t whine if you lose.

  12. a) have you ever heard of a snack bar (“smell of fried food lingering)? 
    b) you have a personal problem with a perceived type of people more than a place (“It’s not just CMC girls who tend to stay away, but also guys who aren’t loving the ever-present bro culture”)
    c) you’re complaining about paper plates
    d) the hub nor school promises the hub or any part of its campus will satisfy the needs or wants or everyone
    e) even editorially, there’s a way to be more positive constructively, instead of indirectly offending people who may genuinely love sports as much as you love criticizing “bros.”

    – a self-admitted partial-depending-on-the-day-bro

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