Katelynn Singleton, news editor
The Honors Program opened a new common area for students in a shared space with the Writing Center, called “The Loft”. The new location for the common space comes after a year of having no common area because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The common area was previously in the basement of Memorial Library, and known as the Honors Commons. Director of the Honors Program, Lauren Heller, said that there were several concerns over the accessibility of the space. Due to the location, the only way to access the space was via a staircase. To make it accessible to non-able-bodied students, an elevator needed to be installed. However, that would require a large amount of money, and difficult because of the age of the library. Additionally, the space was relatively small and forced students to be close to one another.
“There are students on this campus that have invisible disabilities, that because of the stairs, can’t access that place,” Heller said. “I just felt like, on principle, either everybody gets to be a part of the Honors Commons, or nobody does. I’m not going to have a space that excludes people from our community.”
The Honors Commons previously shared a space with the Academic Success Center. The two groups could collaborate and help students who needed it. Heller said that many Honors students might not think that they need academic help, and the joint space helped to encourage some to get the help they need.
Heller said the Honors Program wanted the new common space to be in the library, due to it being an academic hub, as well as a neutral ground for majors. Coleman Fannin, assistant director of the Honors Program, said that having a designated space for honors students allows for students to continue discussions that are being held in class.
“If you put the commons in any academic building, then all of a sudden it’s like ‘oh is the honors program really a humanities program or a science program,’” Heller said.
Heller got into contact with Melissa Mullins, the director of the Writing Center, to talk about collaborating with the Writing Center. The Honors Program was able to use a space in the back of the Writing Center that was not being used.
Fannin said that the new space is still being developed, as well as working out when Writing Center consultants will be in the space so that Honors students can come in and not be disruptive.
Heller hopes that the new shared space will once again encourage students to go to the Writing Center when they need help on assignments. She hopes to break the stigma around getting help among Honors students. Fannin said that Honors students are usually taking more courses that focus on writing, and will hopefully take advantage of the Writing Center.
“I think Honors students being aware of the Writing Center, that will lead to, students taking advantage of the Writing Center more often,” Fannin said.
Honors events will be held in the new space. Heller said that both she and Mullins have discussed hosting joint events, as well as cross-promoting events on each other’s social media. The program has already begun hosting events with other organizations. On Sept. 14, the program held a research night with the Office of Undergraduate Research for the sciences. This allows students to come and work on their honors thesis or other research projects. The research night for the Charter and Campbell schools will be on Tuesday, and for Evans school on Nov. 9.
Although the space is under development, it is currently open to all students.