The Buzz on Campus
Long before smartphones put the world at our fingertips, internet cafes were the place to go to "connect" with friends and peers. In 2004, UMTV dropped by "Quirkey's" a hot college hangout of the day. Check out this UMTV throwback feature.
In 2001, the University of Alabama was ranked as one of the top three party schools in the nation. To combat the problem, a United Methodist church, located just across the street, turned its basement into a hip, happening college hangout. It’s causing quite a buzz—no alcohol required.
Alcohol abuse is a rite of passage in many college towns. In Tuscaloosa, it tends to happen on “The Strip,” a half mile of bars and nightclubs just off campus.
Nathan Putnam: “You don’t see many people in your Friday classes. Everybody’s pretty much hung over.”
Hoping to offer an alternative, Trinity United Methodist Church has opened “Quirkey’s,” an eye-popping wireless café.
Alan Head / Pastor, Trinity United Methodist Church: “I like to call it the ADD person’s dream come true.”
Packed with TVs, DVDs and 24 Internet connections, the basement coffeehouse has become “the bomb.”
Bridget Cabrera / Student: “I think it’s awesome. It’s a great atmosphere to just come out and hang out and meet people, have some coffee, watch some TV, do some homework.”
Church member Doris La Grone-Kispert transformed the once-drab storage space, using funky colors and Christian symbolism.
Doris La Grone-Kispert: “Here we have Alva and Eva Partridge, in their pear tree.”
With an eye for design and a love of college students, this great-grandmother hopes students will be trading places.
Doris La Grone-Kispert: “They can see that they can have more fun in the same sort of ambiance as you would have in a bar.”
Alan Head: “We hope to accomplish that place where they feel like they belong, where they fit in and are a part—connected.”
Open seven nights a week, the low-key ministry connects students to the church and each other.
Tiffany Holliday / Student: “This is nice because it’s not like a church setting. You don’t have to go and be ‘at church.’ You just go and hang out with other people who believe in pretty much the same things that you believe in.”
In 2014, Quirkey’s is still used by college students. Young people today can connect to the web from anywhere. Now they come to Quirkey’s to connect with one another and with God. Trinity United Methodist's college program is now called Elevate. The group meets at Quirkey's once a week.
This story was originally posted on February 25, 2004.