by: Saimah Shareef
Krasa Fireside has been widely used by a number of students as an area for quiet study. Its transformation to BenUnion has been bringing about discussion and skepticism within the student body in regards to its practicality. BenUnion is a new area that has been designated for students to utilize recreationally. On Friday, March 7th, individuals welcomed the official grand opening of BenUnion at 1:00 p.m.
The new space includes a pool table, foosball table, air hockey table, ping-pong table, and large screen television. There is also a little gaming corner with some seating for video games. Students are able to check out board games from Student Activities, using their IDs, to borrow and use in the provided space. The pub style seating creates an environment in which students can just hang out, even if they are not using the provided recreational tools. BenUnion has extended hours and availability on weekends in which individuals can check out materials to use.
For the last several years, Student Senate has collected feedback from students during their office hours in regards to what the BenU community can improve or add. One of the biggest comments has consistently been that there is no recreational place or area to just go and relax, besides the Rice Center.
“We took those concerns to heart and looked at the available space we have. After collecting probably over a thousand reviews from students and contemplating the possible areas of use, we responded to those students’ concerns by deciding on the makeover of Krasa Fireside,” said Joan Henehan, Director of Student Engagement and Leadership Development.
According to Jon Miller, Associate Dean of the Student Success Center, a survey conducted last year by the Commuters Student Association also produced feedback that was in agreement with what Student Senate was hearing in their open office hours. Miller asserted his concern for commuter students who may end up spending the whole day on campus without having a place to go to before, after, or in between classes and presentations on campus.
“There are a lot of commuter students here at BenU that need a place to go as they may have to spend the whole day here, perhaps waiting for classes or evening events. They need a place other than for the purpose of studying or eating where they can just relax,” said Miller.
A number of students have expressed their opposition to the idea of transforming Krasa Fireside to Benuion. They claim that it has been an area for quiet study for them, which is taken away with its transformation to BenUnion. Miller responded to these concerns by expressing that Krasa Fireside was never intended to be a quiet study zone. When it had been set up with tables and chairs in the fall, it was a temporary arrangement as administration needed some time to plan, fundraise, and make arrangements before opening up the recreational space.
“In the past that space had been used for everything. It had a different look and purpose. We wanted to transition the campus community to reserving that space to have one particular look, feel and purpose. We didn’t know how students would necessarily use it,” said Miller.
With changes made to the study zone in the Krasa basement in an effort to increase capacity in student study, students can migrate downstairs to take advantage of that area as a study zone. It is also wished that students who use the second and third floor of Kindlon as an area for socialization and hanging out will move to BenUnion, reducing the noise level there and making that space more appropriate for study.
Student Life in general has taken the lead in developing the space. Support for it has come from many different areas in the university. Financial contributions from staff, proceeds from class gifts of 2012 and 2013, alumni, Student Senate, and Student Activities have all come together to make the finances of it happen.
“We hope this will be a very positive addition to our campus community and will give students the opportunity to go somewhere and do recreational things or simply hang out,” said Henehan.