Jonathan Lee ‘20
Senior Staff Writer
This semester, students have made themselves at home in several new spaces around campus, benefitting from the joint efforts of peers, faculty, and administration. These additions include the Lavender Lounge, the Belk Quiet Study Space, the Nest, and Union Station.
Other areas have been recently revamped, including the first floor of the library, and more new and renovated spaces are planned. In all of these projects, students played a central role through advocacy, focus groups, and dialogue with the administration.
The new Lavender Lounge, located next to the quiet study space in the basement of Belk instead of tucked behind the Residence Life Office (RLO), represents a milestone for Davidson’s queer community.
“We have a more central location, and that somehow indicates a different kind of standing and representation and visibility within the [Davidson] community,” commented Associate Dean of Students and Director of Residence Life Jason Shaffer. “There is a lot of symbolic power, but there’s also the general sense that ‘I really just want to go into this room and hang out and feel comfortable here.’ The new Lavender Lounge offers 24/7 access by students and is located in a place that students can come and go from without being outed.”
Taylor Drake ‘21, Co-President of YANASH (You Are Not A Stranger Here), a group for queer and questioning students, remarked that “the old Lavender Lounge felt like a closet—which is not quite the vibe you want for a designated queer space.”
Following improvements, “The Lavender Lounge gives us a special physical space to foster our strong and diverse community,” Drake said. “YANASH, Q&A, and the Center for Diversity and Inclusion plans to use the space for dinner, movie nights, and general talks.”
Next door to the Lavender Lounge is the Belk Quiet Study Space (formerly Belk Computer Lab), which features three quiet study rooms, carrels, and other private work spaces. The room is light, fresh, and quiet.
“There are a lot of places on this campus where you can be sort of studying and sort of social…. everything in there really lends itself to not working with somebody else, and to make it to where people are not chatting with each other and disrupting everybody else,” Shaffer noted.
The space was completely stripped of the desktop computers, making it “as minimalist and as simple as possible,” Shaffer said. “Student reactions have been very positive.”
To address student wellbeing in Davidson’s stressful environment, Reverend Grace Burford, Associate Chaplain for Buddhist Programs and Director of the Davidson Meditation Initiative, and Health Education Fellow Morgan McGrath ‘17 helped to create a ‘wellness space’ in the E.H. Little Library called the Nest.
Located on the second floor of the library, the Nest includes “yoga mats, meditation cushions, coloring books, and a big bean bag chair so big you could lie down on it or sleep or meditate or just relax,” Burford detailed. “We tried to put some inspirational messages around, too.”
McGrath said that the space is there to “ground yourself; it’s kind of like a pep talk as a room.”
The creation of the Nest coincides with another change to the library: the renovation of the first floor. New furniture, fewer desktop computers, and the relocation of the DVD collection opened up the space.
“We’re moving away from desktops as much as possible… and the rocking chairs have had their day.” Library Director Lisa Forrest commented. Future projects include updating the Maker Space Outpost with a 3D printer, button maker, and vinyl cutter.
After the controversial departure of the Union Station convenience store last year, a committee of students and administrators convened to determine the best new use for the space. They decided on a “transformable space,” including video game stations, movable furniture, and a poster-making station, said Mike Goode, President Director of College Union and Student Activities.
“There is definitely a need for [the video game stations] on campus” and “bringing that to the Union, having a place where people can gather” works as “community building,” said Union Board President Anna Ferdinand ‘19.
Even with all of these new additions, more projects are proposed or underway. To increase housing options for students coming back from abroad, the college plans to add more rooms in Belk, “so the entire RLO/Cat Card Services area will become 12 double rooms,” Shaffer mentioned.
He continued: “That renovation will happen next fall… and we’ll have 24 new beds in the spring. Residence Life will move into the old laundry facility.”
Shaffer also outlined plans for a proposed renovation of Richardson Hall this summer, which includes an elevator to increase accessibility, single-occupant rooms, and non-gender designated bathrooms.