By Olivia Nicoletti
The Student Government Association (SGA) welcomed students to a new spot on campus where they can sit back and relax during the school year.
On Sept. 15, the SGA staff hosted an open house to introduce campus to the “Zen Den” located on the first floor of the Bart Luedeke Center (BLC).
“I was very excited to see such a great turnout. Students seemed really intrigued and happy with the space,” said senior political science major and SGA President Andrew Bernstein. “We owe a huge thanks to Counseling Services for helping us promote the space and holding workshops for students during the open house.”
The lounge will be available to students through the semester during all hours the BLC is open.
According to sophomore political science major and SGA Academic Affairs Chairman Christina Natoli, although it’s a space open for all, there will be constant quiet hours “to relax and get away from all the noise on campus.”
“I’m confident that students will see the benefit of having such a space on campus and will continue to utilize it,” Bernstein said.
Hayley Ashe, a graduate student and former health and safety chairman, said the idea originally came about at a Counseling Center event held a couple years prior where they addressed the need for inclusive spaces that are more sensitive to the needs of neurodivergent individuals on college campuses in the age of growing diversity among college student populations.
“This project has been in the works for the past few years, however, my committee last year met with different university departments, such as Facilities, the Counseling Center and Student Affairs, as well as students, to tailor the room to the specific needs of the student body,” Ashe said.
The Zen Den was fully funded by SGA and designed by SGA members. Samuel Hoffman, Andrew Bernstein, Hayley Ashe and the SGA Health and Safety Committee dedicated time to researching what they wanted the room to look like and what the budget needed to be to achieve those desired results, according to Ashe.
Natoli said, “SGA really tried to cater to the students’ preferences and utilized student funding in a way that directly benefits the campus community.”
Bernstein said, “We all know how stressful classes, work, and other commitments can be, so it’s nice to have a space where students can take a break from all these stressors and focus on themselves. We really wanted to emphasize the importance of addressing students with all different mental and emotional health needs, especially in the wake of COVID-19.”
Natoli echoed that and said, “I think the Zen Den is an innovative and remarkable project, and I’m so thankful that we had such hardworking student leaders to make it happen.”
Originally printed in the 9/28 issue.