The Office of Residential Life recently wrapped up focus group sessions that gave students living on campus an opportunity to discuss their residential experience. A consistent and important talking point at these sessions focused on the need for lounges in each residence hall, a concern that the office is urged to consider and resolve for the upcoming fall semester.
The primary purpose of lounges is to provide students with a space outside of their room where they can study, hang out with friends and meet new people. Not providing students with that space can negatively impact a student’s college experience.
Earlier in the year, students moving into lounges as part of extended occupancy expressed their contentment with their living arrangements. Though these students received compensation for their housing, they, in addition to other students living in regular dorms, lost out on an actual lounge and extra study space, possibly affecting their academic careers.
In order to accommodate the large freshman class, the college was not only forced to sacrifice lounges, but is now dealing with limited room in IC Square, the library and other public spaces where students usually gather. The office is encouraged to collaborate with other college offices to create alternative spaces for students to relax when their dorm rooms aren’t enough.
Lounges allow for a common place where students can gather because of their size, proving the perfect place for dorm programs. The lack of lounges also takes away spaces where resident assistants can hold programs resulting in the loss of an important tool that would facilitate community building.
The decision last fall to build an additional residence hall and recent plans for more living spaces in the future are steps in the right direction. The office should continue looking for solutions that would add more living spaces instead of taking them away from students.
Because of its responsibilities, Residential Life has the privilege of shaping a student’s college experience. By not making room for lounges or other spaces for student interaction, the office is significantly taking away from a cherished college experience.