The Return of Ryley Room

When Commons reopens in March, the popular student hangout formerly known as the Ryley Room will officially have a new name. Originally named after a soccer coach at Andover, Ryley was the man who demanded that the students have a place to relax and socialize after classes. And so the Ryley Room came into being. According to Paul Murphy, Dean of Students and Residential Life, the school is waiting for an alumnus to sign off on a donation that will essentially pay for the remodeling of the Ryley Room. Once this alumnus has toured Ryley and donated the money, the room will be named after that person. “In a perfect world, we would have already changed the name. I would have liked to have done this a month ago, but it’s a pretty easy name to remember,” said Murphy. But some students are not ready to call Ryley by a different name. “I think that everyone’s still going to call it Ryley, even though someone else donated the money for it. It’s what everyone remembers. We’re attached to Ryley,” said Emily Rademacher ’11. “For the people who have known Ryley Room…out of habit, they’ll still call it Ryley,” said Sophia Jia ’10. Murphy said he believes that as time goes by, more students will come to call the Ryley Room by its new name, as soon as the alumnus donor is announced. Ryley has undergone major renovations and improvements like the larger Commons dining facility. Ryley will accommodate dances and various other weekend events, reassuming its campus role currently held by the Underwood Room. Ryley has been outfitted with a stage and an intricate sound system. The ceiling has a suspended LED light system, which can change according to the music playing. Ryley will also be equipped with a 60-inch plasma screen TV and a projector that will be able to screen movies on the wall. The new Ryley Room will have six booths, as well as couches, on which students can lounge during dances or after classes. Ryley’s kitchen area has been completely renovated with new cooking equipment, such as a char broiler and grill. Construction workers have also installed a pizza maker and fryers to cook French fries, chicken fingers and mozzarella sticks, according to John Galanis, Capital Project Manager. Students had significant input to decide the types of food that Ryley will serve. They will also be able to purchase snacks and food with the new BlueCard system, which will be in operation in the Ryley Room. Two of the major complains about the old Ryley were its dim lighting and crowded atmosphere, issues that the Commons planning committee addressed. The new Ryley Room will have an outdoor patio that will open up space and provide additional lighting. Murphy said that he foresees the possibility of bands playing in the patio area in addition to the stage in Ryley. The chairs and tables in Ryley are lightweight and function as both indoor and outdoor furniture that can accommodate the weather. Ryley is currently painted blue, but “I’m sure we’ll end up redecorating every three to five years,” said Murphy. “In 2004, when we were making these plans, Exeter had just built their student center, and it just made sense to [Barbara Chase, Head of School] and others to do both projects [Commons and Ryley] in a single building,” said Murphy. Right nextdoor to Ryley is a new space where Cindy Efinger, Director of Student Activities, will move her office. Efinger, who currently works in George Washington Hall, felt that Commons was a more central location and therefore a better spot for maximizing student interactions. The room was originally intended to be a meeting room for the Commons staff. Students might also face stricter regulation of the policy tat allows only Seniors in Ryley during study hours. Efinger proposed to have Blue Key Heads on duty in the Ryley Room to enforce study hour policies.