Georgia Lodewyk .– Staff Writer
As students headed to breakfast or morning classes on September 28, many noticed something different about the new tent next to the Commons. Someone had plastered a large, yellow sign to the side of the canvas with the words “The Tabernacle” written in bold lettering. It did not stay up for long, but the sign points towards an ongoing debate on campus surrounding the tent’s naming.
A week before the sign appeared, Robert Taylor christened the tent “The Bubble”. A tent- naming committee chose the named from a list of student submissions for the chance at a $30 campus store gift card.
Freshman Aaron de Jong came up with the name based off the “2020 NBA Bubble” set up in Walt Disney World, Orlando for basketball players to stay isolated while finishing out the 2019-20 season.
He said when he sent the suggestion in he did not think Dordt would actually pick it.
“I thought they would just laugh at it.” De Jong said.
Other names submitted by students included
“Commons 2.0,” “The Tabernacle,” and “Shalom Dome.”
Some on Dordt’s campus, like freshman Justine Combs, are not in favor of the current name. Her favorite of the many suggested is “The Tabernacle,” which is a reference to the portable resting-place for God carried by the ancient Israelites in the Bible.
“That thing is not shaped like a bubble in the slightest. It holds no resemblance to a bubble.” Combs said. “’The Tabernacle’ references our Christian background.”
Combs said she didn’t place the bright yellow sign on The Bubble, but that “whoever put the sign up, I love them.”
“A lot of our buildings are of great importance because they are a part of who we are and building a legacy.” Dr. Tom Prinsen, a communication professor at Dordt, said. “So building names do have importance.”
Dr. Prinsen teaches public relations and marketing research classes at Dordt University. In his classes he looks at the importance of building relationships between businesses or institutions—like Dordt—and the surrounding community. There are a lot of perspectives to look at when deciding on a brand—or in this case, a name for a giant tent. According to Prinsen, names like “The Tabernacle” could be viewed as sacrilegious.
For other Dordt students, the tent’s location is a bigger problem than the name. The Bubble takes up most of the parking lot between the Commons and East Hall, reducing the number of available parking spaces for students.
“A lot of people are mad because they can’t park there.” Luke Wagner, a freshman at Dordt, said. “I don’t really think it [the tent] does anything, the only people that use it are football people. It’s not really beneficial.”
Dordt built the tent to provide more space for students to congregate safely. Students are encouraged to use the space for eating meal or congregating in large groups where it is unsafe to meet indoors. Resident Life, Student Activities, and some classes have made use of the space in order to follow CDC guidelines.
The yellow sign attempting to give a new label to The Bubble may have been taken down, but the naming debate has the potential to continue.
“The formal names we control, but the informal names, we don’t.” Prinsen said, “Dordt can call it whatever they want to call it, but students may have their own name.”