Undergraduate and graduate students were brought closer together this fall, when the graduate student lounge was relocated to the Rothwell Center, next to the Persis Coleman lounge.
The graduate lounge had been housed in the old Children’s School facility, but was displaced this semester in order to make room for the new fifth year MBA program.
Administrators in the Office of Student Life and the Graduate Studies Office struggled to find a new home for the graduate lounge before finally settling on space formerly occupied by the Persis Coleman lounge, the campus lounge for traditional aged, undergraduate commuters.
“There’s been a need for a graduate lounge for a long time,” said Myrt Whitcomb, Dean of Students, who added that graduate students “have been moved around in pretty marginalized places on campus. As numbers have grown, there’s been an increasing need to provide a central location for them,” said Dean Whitcomb. Because the new lounge is limited in size, graduate students have also been allotted a small room equipped with computers in Stern Hall.
Maryanne Sheldon, Dean of Social Sciences and acting Director of Graduate Studies, stressed that the decision to use part of the Persis Coleman space was made out of necessity. Sheldon and Whitcomb had a hard time finding a new location for the graduate lounge due to ongoing campus construction and the addition of new programs that have cut down on the available space on campus.
Addressing the decision to reassign some Persis Coleman space, Whitcomb said, “it has been hard to get activity going in the lounge. “Given the relative lack of use, it made sense,” she said. Sheldon also pointed out that the Persis Coleman lounge was one of few underutilized spaces on campus, and that sharing the space seemed appropriate, considering the campus spatial restrictions and the needs of the graduate students.
“The ideal solution will come when the college has raised the money to carry out the Rothwell Center renovation plan,” said Sheldon. Whitcomb also cited the Rothwell renovation plans. “Long term, there are plans to build onto the Student Union, and those include a graduate student lounge,” she said.
For this fall, however, the Persis Coleman lounge was trimmed from four rooms to three, one of which is a computer room. The new graduate student lounge has its own entrance around the East side of the Rothwell Center, across from the Psychology building. The graduate lounge and Persis Coleman lounges are now adjoining, and share a bathroom.
Graduate students are still trickling in to locate and assess their new lounge. During the first week of school, the graduate lounge was mostly empty during the day, with the occasional student dropping in to rest. Several lost graduate students have been directed to their lounge after trying unsuccessfully to open the Persis Coleman door.
Persis Coleman students who visited the lounge for lunch during the first week of school were surprised to learn of the change. One student expressed concern that there would not be enough space to hold meetings, rest, and study once the semester is in full swing. So far, though, both the Persis Coleman lounge and the graduate student lounge have been largely vacant.
All three commuter lounges are now housed in the student union building. These include the Mary Atkins lounge, the Persis Coleman lounge, and the Graduate Student lounge. For information about any of these lounges, contact the Office of Student Life.