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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Creating a space to call home

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Sierra Long ’21 (left) and Daja Walker ’19 (right) frame photos to hang in the Commuter lounge. PHOTO: DIMETRI WILLIAMS ’19 /THE HAWK

Commuter lounge gets needed makeover

The St. Joe’s commuter lounge is currently undergoing a redesign with the assistance of Student Transitions Director Nancy Komada, Ph.D., and Campus Minister Jackie Newns.

Commuter students said they hope to create a space that feels more like home. With artistic direction from Newns, commuter students will weekly add different elements to the commuter space, including framed photographs and reupholstering old furniture using recycled jeans donated by the students.

While this redesign is exciting for commuter students, the maze of scissors and smell of hot glue-guns are just a small reminder to some that this makeover is long overdue, according to commuter student Daja Walker ’19.

“For a long time I felt as though commuters were ignored,” Walker said. “I saw this little tiny space, it was dull and there were some commuters, but they were crammed in here. I don’t understand as a university why you want a certain segment of your students to be in a space that looks so dull and unbecoming.”

Walker said she remembers her first experience on campus, thinking that the Perch was the commuter lounge, because she did not know a there was a space dedicated to commuter students.

“A physical space should represent the people who dwell in it,” Newns said. “I feel like there is a personality and a spirit to the commuter population. This space was in need of more energy and care to reflect the people in it.”

According to Newns, the commuter students have taken charge of the redesign and are energetic and excited about their gradually beautified space.

“This room needed to reflect the home environment,” Newns said. “A lot of the students here don’t spend time in residence halls, which are other places of community building, so this is that home space.”

“I am happy it is going to be a comfortable space, and hopefully more commuters will feel comfortable when they come in here and will want to stay,” Walker said.

Walker, advocating for change ever since, recognizes the impact of even the smallest changes to the space.

“A simple paint change can change the feeling in a room,” Walker said. “We are lively people, we have a really good time when we are here, so we needed something to match our personalities.”

The first change happened over Thanksgiving break, with the repainting of the walls in the lounge.

Walker and Newns both credit Nancy Komada’s position for putting into action the lounge’s redesign.

“Nancy Komada initiated the idea after her office moved into this space,” Newns said. “She recognized that students were here all day every day. It just was time.”

Having served the St. Joe’s community in the positions of senior director of Adult Student Life, assistant to vice president for Student Life/Senior Judicial Officer and director of Student Leadership in addition to her current one, Komada said that each of her previous roles has been a resource in spreading awareness about the need for change in the commuter lounge.

“The idea is how can we embed and integrate [these students] more in the community,” Komada said. “What do they need that we can provide?”

Komada hopes this space will act as a home to commuters on campus, understanding that it will take time for students to gravitate to the new space.

“I really hope that students don’t eat their lunch in their car, ” Komada said. “But instead that they come here and use this space.”

After hearing about the redesign, Makiah Stephens ’22 spends more time in the lounge than she used to. Stephens has now found companionship and comradery while helping to create a more comfortable area.

“This used to be a place I would just walk through,” Stephens said. “I would say my hellos and then just go along with my business.”

As part of the redecoration, a painted canvas with a collage made by some of the commuter students now hangs on one of the central lounge walls. Stephens came up with the idea to rearrange the collage into the shape of a “C” for commuters.

“We are all like a little tiny family here with each of us adding something, each of us having an element here bringing us all together in this little tiny space,” Walker said.

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