Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Since 1907
Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

New intercultural lounge provides safe space for students

Photo by Ericka Buitenhuis

This past year has seen renovations across campus, including remodeling in Johnny’s and the Spoelhof Fieldhouse as well as the creation of a new intercultural lounge for students.

This lounge, located in the Commons Annex near the Multicultural Student Development Office (MSDO), is specifically designed as a place where students of every culture can feel welcomed and accepted.

The decision to create this space arose from conversations with current and former students and staff about the idea of belonging, according to Christina Edmondson, dean of multicultural student development.

“Students need a space where they feel they can breathe,” said Edmondson. “[The intercultural lounge] is a space with intentionality that affirms and welcomes racial diversity, sending consistent messages of ‘I want you here.’”

Students at Calvin have made it clear that they are aware of the conversation and challenges surrounding diversity here on campus.

“I feel like college is a time when you should be learning about your atmosphere, especially different experiences and people,” said sophomore Kelsey Waterman. “We have a lot of similar people here [at Calvin]. You should be enriched in college, and [that enrichment] is not as present here as it could be.”

Edmondson hopes that an intercultural lounge will be a place where students can discuss problems like these:

“We want to create a space where students can hang out and have conversations about diversity, including white majority students who are longing for more diversity in their experience at Calvin.”

The creation of this space aligns with the focus of the MSDO office, explained Khayree Williams, the new assistant dean for multicultural student development.

“The MSDO wants to make sure that all students are comfortable, that they feel like they’re valued in the Calvin community and have a place where their voice is being heard. We want to both support multicultural students and serve as an educational hub for the whole campus.”

The MSDO hopes that the intercultural lounge will help achieve these goals.

“[We want the lounge] to be a safe space where students feel comfortable in their own skin. But even more, we want it to be a space where they can reenergize and go out and challenge the institution as a whole to be a safer space,” explained Edmondson.

Although the lounge is currently open to students, its addition has not been widely publicized yet this year because work on the lounge is still in progress.

Currently the lounge has a couch, a TV and a table that can be used as a workspace. However, the MSDO has plans to add more furniture, a laptop working station, additional seating, lockers for commuter students and artwork. The artwork will include pictures of recent AHANA graduates, emphasizing the fact that these students have a place at Calvin and can succeed beyond their time here. There are also plans to include artwork that emphasizes diversity and embracing differences.

“Students that do know about [the lounge] right now are popping in, which is great,” said Williams. “We’re hoping [when everything’s finished] to possibly have some kind of grand opening … We want to encourage students to come by and be present.”

More to Discover