The renovated Rathskeller

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The newly renovated Rathskeller, complete with Pop-A-Shot. Photo by Henry Gramling.

Fornos and the future

Over the past year, a joint effort between the UD Student Foundation and the Office of Student Activities has entirely reimagined the Rathskeller. The space is becoming a Haggar staple that can act as both an ever-changing dining room and a homey place to study in the heart of campus.

Recent renovations have proven that the Rat is a center of campus life on weekday nights. Moey Brown, director of student activities, gave a recent example of how the university has put the space to good use.

“Our debate that we had with Dr. Crider and President Sanford that was moderated by Dr. Roper was incredibly successful. We’d like to do more like that,” she said.

Bringing a strong sense of campus identity to the Rat has been a major goal throughout the renovation. Emma Roberts, senior politics major and vice president of the UD Student Foundation, headed the project alongside current president, JP Rezendes. UD pictures adorn the wall to give students a glimpse of the Rat’s significance over the decades.

“We got pictures from the archives to bring in UD history and cool things associated with that,” said Roberts.

Another key pillar of inspiration was the thinkers that comprise the Core Curriculum. Roberts believes that while the space should celebrate UD’s campus history, it should also celebrate its unique academics.

“We have a lot of the books from the Core on display, and then pictures of Dante and Aquinas and Virgil and Augustine,” she said.

Other new additions include a Pop-A-Shot, a handful of jerseys and UD-related wall art.

In addition to these cosmetic changes, logistic improvements are coming in the near future. A long-term project surrounding the space involves the installation of a forno – a large, outdoor brick oven that will enable students to grill and make pizza.

This is the most concerted effort made to spruce up the Rat’s food offerings. Roberts credits fellow student Jacob Rombs for sparking interest in the idea.

“He had the idea after we got back from Rome,” she said. “He brought it to JP and I, and we talked to a few people about it, and it ended up being one of those ideas that we had [for the space].”

Luke Posegate, senior economics major and president of student government, weighed in on the addition of a forno.

“I think expanding the space and adding a forno to the outside portion of it would be a great way for students to continue to bring the Rome experience back to campus after they’ve spent their summer semester over there,” he said.

Dr. Gregory Roper, dean of students, recently added a grill to the Rat to serve the same purpose as a forno in the meantime. Luke Ogden helped to assemble the grill and was thanked by Roper in his weekly email.

“Special thanks to Luke Ogden for two hours in the sun assembling it for all of you!” said Roper.

Posegate spoke about his intentions for the future of the Rat.

“We would love to see it become like an Irish pub, so that it’s got the ability for people to play music there and study there,” he said.

Ben Gibbs, assistant vice president for operations, said that the Rat should act as a catch-all destination on campus.

“It’s a space where you can have lunch, or you can put your feet up on the couch and watch a World Cup game, or you can come down here if Dining Services is serving beer and have a beer in the evening. You can do all those things in a multifunctional space like the Rathskeller.”

The motive behind this ongoing renovation of the Rat is to design an area that puts students’ interests, wants and needs front and center.

“I think there’s always going to be a need in residence halls and academic buildings across campus for space for people to be in community together,” said Gibbs. “The hope is that the Rathskeller, and some of the changes that were made last year and maybe some potential changes in the future, are really all being made in order to create spaces where our community can flourish and thrive together.”

The Rat has always been a major part of student life on campus, and these improvements to the Rat help further its role in this capacity. “The Rat has always been the heart of the student body inside and outside of the classroom,” Brown said.

In addition to hosting TGITs and offering extra dining options, the Rat will act as an entertainment center on campus, hosting a myriad of wide-ranging events and providing students with an experience that embodies the university’s mission.

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