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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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Wang Center: Sleek, Modern and Empty

With numerous fountains, an expansive garden and an abundance of natural light, the Charles B. Wang Center is easily one of the most aesthetically appealing buildings on Stony Brook’s campus. It’s airy, sleek, modern — and empty.

Presented to the State University of New York in 2002 by Charles B. Wang, the Center’s main purpose lies in providing a cultural center for Stony Brook students and faculty. But aside from Jasmine Restaurant and the occasional event, the majority of this 120,000-square-foot gift remains untouched.

Even though the Center opened in 2002, it wasn’t until April 2003 that any events were held there. Now, eight years later, that general feeling of disuse still hangs in the air.

The only part of the building that sees regular visitors is Jasmine Restaurant, which serves Asian cuisine. Half the time, “Wang” is synonymous with “Jasmine.” That doesn’t happen nearly as often with other on-campus dining sites. For instance, the Student Activities Center has a large dining hall, but it also houses a gym, fitness classes, a bank, a post office and ballrooms on top of hosting events. The Stony Brook Union, which includes the Union Deli and the Union Commons, also contains  lecture halls and serves as a meeting place for many student organizations.

The Wang Center also has lecture halls and a theater, but how many times have they been regularly used for anything aside from guest lectures? Performances, films and workshops highlighting and celebrating different aspects of Asian culture take place every so often, but these only appeal to a fraction of the student population. Even with spectacular publicity, these events fail to bring in a wide range of students.

Stony Brook offers an entire major dedicated to Asian and Asian-American studies. A search of the major on SOLAR returns classes held in the Humanities building, the Javits Lecture Center and the Social and Behavioral Sciences building. Not one is listed as being held in the Wang Center, the building dedicated to promoting the understanding of Asian and Asian-American cultures.

So why not hold classes pertaining to Asian and Asian-American studies in a building that was constructed for the very same focus? By sending students there on a regular basis to take classes, the Wang Center would be able to more effectively publicize events and functions, thus bringing in more people interested in participating in those events.

Another way to take advantage of Wang’s pristine facilities is to allow student organizations to meet in various places in the building. Currently, multiple student organizations occupy small spaces in only a few locations, such as the basement of the Union and the third floor of the SAC. The Wang Center obviously has ample room to accommodate student meetings, and reserving those spaces for banquets and seminars alone, which only take place every now and then, seems wasteful.

The Charles B. Wang Center is the single largest gift received by the SUNY system, but it is not enough for it to just sit pretty for eight years with minimal use. The open, spacious interior becomes lifeless without any people in sight, and the gray steel goes from seeming sleek to resembling a sterile environment. If for no other reason, Stony Brook owes it to Charles B. Wang to honor his contribution by utilizing the building to its fullest potential.

 

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