IDEAS center renovations put more thought into student needs

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Renovations to the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access and Social Justice Center have been completed, giving students better access to services provided.

The increase in floor space and the addition of a new meeting room is helpful to the once-crowded offices according to justin adkins.

“If you walked by this office before this fall, you would have noticed it was just packed to the gills every day,” said justin adkins, associate dean of students and director of the IDEAS Center. “We just didn’t have the space to fulfill our mission at all.”

One of the new additions to the center is the added meeting space that was built in what was the previous storage room for clubs at Allegheny College.

This additional space allows students and student groups to meet in an environment that is situated to provide a beneficial experience.  

“The expansion space, the exciting thing about it is, it is allowing us to fulfill things such as having space for students to study and having space for student groups to have meetings,” adkins said.

The expansion space is fitted with a whiteboard, tables, chairs and a large counter that allows students or student organizations to serve food.

“We can do different things with food,” adkins said. “We do food at the end of every semester during finals. Now that we have a counter space we can really do that more adequately to meet the needs of students.”

Any student group is allowed to use the new additional space for meetings, however, permission from adkins is needed for it to become a scheduled occurrence.

“If you have a student group meeting and want to have it happen on a regular basis, ask,” adkins said.

The expansion space is not currently on scheduler as the IDEAS Center wants to see how many people use it before adding it to the list of reservable spaces.

With the addition of a new room, the main lounge also received something new. A larger tv has been installed and more room has been added.

The additional area has allowed the IDEAS Center to split between a lounge area and an academic area, allowing for more accommodations. For students, these accommodations are now easier to access.

“There is a big screen tv now in this space. So we can have more of a hangout space,” adkins said. “We can kind of separate the two.”

Along with the physical changes, students now have access to the expansion space and lounge at any time.

“One of the other shifts that happened is that now that we got the appropriate space we are able to open up our doors,” adkins said. “The doors to the IDEAS Center are open 24 hours a day.”

The open door policy is one of the changes that students are liking about the new renovations, but the increased accessibility of resources is also a welcomed addition.

“I like it, I like that the space is always open for students to use,” said Sydney Francis, ’21. “The accessibility of the mutual aid closet and also the snacks and the products and everything, they are just easier to get to.”

Even with all of these updates, adkins does not think that student participation will necessarily increase. Student involvement in the IDEAS Center has been high, according to adkins, and the new additions will benefit the already large number of students who frequent the space.

“The goal is to be meeting the needs of those who have already been using the space,” adkins said.  

Meeting the needs of those already in the space also means meeting the needs of the students who are part of the William C. Jason Fellows. This group of about nine students helps aid the IDEAS Center in daily work as well as with events.

One of the fellows, Sophie Foreman, ’22, is happy with the renovations and has noticed students using the space.

“Meeting students where they’re at in their identity and identity development, and that’s not necessarily the stereotypical things that you think of listed on our mission statement,” adkins said  “You know it’s all of these other things about our identities that make us who we are. That is one of the most important things the IDEAS Center can do.”

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