Letter to the editor: The Hut

What’s in a name? We recently observed Veterans Day, which once was called Armistice Day, a celebration of the end of a devastating war. Now the focus of November 11, while rightly honoring selfless service, gives little attention to peace and the horrors of war.

The College has recently announced another name change: the Hut will become Rachel’s Rose Cottage. Honoring a beloved alumna of more than a century ago, the name will eventually obscure what the Hut once represented in the lives of students. From 1991 to 2017, the Hut was the center of vital campus spiritual life. Open 24/7 and hosting a multifaith community of Jews, Christians, Muslims, Baha’is, Unitarian-Universalists, Pagan Mystics and others, it was symbolically at the center of campus, even as the belief in the Inward Light in all people is at the center of Quaker belief and practice.

The Hut had coffee and tea at the ready around the clock, as well as snacks left over from the constant groups, classes and other events held there. Re-purposing the Hut into a coffee shop may offer better coffee and a more “upscale” space than the funky “living room” atmosphere the Hut once provided, but I doubt it will offer the profound spiritual space that so many alumni have witnessed to as they have learned of the loss of yet another informal student/faculty gathering space.

Coffee shops notoriously operate on a slender margin. And now the vibrant spiritual life once present in the Hut has been sent to the margins of the College’s life. Conversations about and experiences of the Ground of Being will be replaced by coffee grounds. It’s more than a name change. It’s a change in focus from what’s at the Center to what’s on the periphery.

 

Max L. Carter

Guilford College faculty 1990 – 2015

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