Early last week I was eating at The Shack which happens to be one of my favorite local spots in Wooster. During my meal, the owner Candy brought a clipboard with a petition over to my table. Imagine my surprise when I was told that the College of Wooster was attempting to buy the building The Shack is located in, and force a timeless College of Wooster landmark out onto the streets. All this while our College looked the other way as if nothing objectionable was being done. So, at the risk of ranting, let me see if I can list the reasons I find these actions so despicable.
Firstly, all if this is happening despite the present owner’s many years in the College community. While Candy explained to me, heartbroken, that the College was attempting to force them out, she also mentioned the fact that she is both an alumna of the College and the Pi Kappa sorority and presently has a son enrolled here. If that was not enough, our school seems to be forgetting that The Shack has been a part of the town and the College of Wooster long before our time here. Knocking it down for God-knows what reason would only serve to infuriate alumni and students alike who hold it dear in their hearts from their four years at Wooster.
But this relationship with the College is not just a coincidence of location. Despite having no official affiliation with the College, The Shack and its staff have toiled tirelessly to forge an identity that incorporates the interests and spirit of Wooster’s student body. The walls are plastered with College memorabilia, and just this past year, The Shack fought hard to obtain a liquor license so they could offer students an alternative to the run-of-the-mill social life options on campus. Two well-attended karaoke events recently held there illustrate the positive reception these changes have received as more and more students head over to this south campus institution to unwind with friends.
Additionally, the College owns 121 of the once 123 separate lots that now comprise the campus’ property. One of these last two privately owned lots is the lot on which The Shack currently sits. It thus seems bizarre and unnecessary that the administration would do so much for two small pieces of land. It seems to me that the College is conducting these land grabs as a way to flex their power over sections of a town that, at best, shares an uneasy relationship with the College community.
More troubling is that if this transaction were to go through, the College would require upgrades to the building for it to remain standing. Adding insult to injury, The Shack’s owners would have to pour upwards of $100,000 into the building in order to ensure that it was up to present building code. This is not a simple requirement, as the building dates from the 1920s.
But I write today not only to rant about the behavior of our College’s leaders, but also to remind the larger College community that we, as students, have more power than we often realize. The College is obviously aware of this fact, as the process of buying The Shack was supposed to have been completed during our winter break when we were not on campus to voice our opinions or to raise objections to the College’s treatment of its neighbors. Luckily, the owners have managed to delay the process long enough to allow students the time to do something about this atrocity.
It is important that students are all aware of the tragedy that may descend on our south campus neighbor. If you agree that The Shack is a place that deserves to be a part of this campus as much as any other building, then take time out of your busy day to stop by The Shack and sign the petition. Ask for Candy and she will be more than happy to help you out. This is both a personal plea and a call to action to fellow students. We must work to make sure this issue between The Shack and the College is addressed in a legal manner, so that The Shack stays here for us as well as future Wooster students.