Why is the Big Red Barn closed during various academic breaks?

Date: April 2023


Dear Deans,

I am writing to inquire about the closure of The Big Red Barn Graduate and Professional Student Center during various academic breaks, including Spring break and Winter break. As a graduate student, I am aware that this facility is intended for graduate student events and socializing. However, I have noticed that it is closed despite the presence of graduate students on campus.

I am writing to respectfully request an explanation for this closure. As a graduate student, I believe that access to this facility is important for our academic and social experiences. Therefore, any information you can provide regarding this matter would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Socially Starved Graduate Student


Dear “Socially Starved Graduate Student,”

First, thank you for reaching out and asking for an explanation as to why our beloved Barn is closed when classes are not in session. Frankly, we should have shared more information about the recent closures because there are some exciting improvements underway! Your message reminds us to be more transparent with our graduate students about our facility updates and the work involved in completing this.

As I am sure you can appreciate, the Barn is a historic building that requires a ton of upkeep and periodic renovations. When deciding on the timing for these updates, we prioritize when classes are not in session, hoping to do this during a less disruptive period. We can share with you that over the “Spring Break,” we made progress on a long-awaited air conditioning project so that the facility will be cool this summer (that is what the new pipes in the space are for!). During this past Winter Break, the air conditioning project was started, and we completed repairs to the floor that put the space out of commission for a couple of weeks.

The design of the Barn makes it unbearably warm in the summer, so it has been challenging to hold summer events or programming. But with our new air conditioning, Big Red Barn Director Jen Forbes is planning a fun slate of summer 2023 programming and events, allowing graduate students to access the newly “cool” facility when classes are not in session. We hope the Barn will continue to be the space for grad students to hang out and find community. Next year, we may have additional short closures when installing a new all-gender ADA-compliant bathroom. More information will be available as our calendar is completed.

Finally, we would love to hear from you if you have some ideas/thoughts about the Barn operation (see below for emails). We want to point out that there is a significant relationship between the Barn and our GPSA (Graduate and Professional Student Assembly); we encourage your participation with GPSA. We also have a newly formed Graduate Student Life Advisory Council that we (with Angela Yantorno) co-chair; we will add your email as our May agenda topic. We share this to encourage your participation in sharing your perspective and to let you know that we will discuss this more broadly as we consider grad student needs.

Again, thank you!


Janna Lamey (janna.lamey@cornell.edu)
Jen Forbes (JF282@cornell.edu)