Campus Salem Gray

Students react to the Learning Commons




On January 25, 2023, the Greg Hatcher Learning Commons opened for student use after 11 months of construction. Parts of the interior building, as well as the landscaping on the exterior, are still being renovated. However, the basement, first floor and second floor are all open to students.

The Learning Commons held a grand opening celebration on Jan. 25 that gave students the chance to tour the interior for the first time. Since then, students have been actively using the space despite ongoing interior construction.

Several faculty and staff offices moved into the Learning Commons since its opening. The library staff offices are located on the second floor, The Center for College and Community Engagement and Career and Personal Development moved from the Center for Student Opportunity (CSO) to the basement. The Student Success offices, also previously in the CSO, moved to the first floor. The Writing Center has moved from the DOW study rooms back to its previous location on the first floor, occupying the same corner as the Student Success office.

“Students were studying in the library space almost as soon as the doors were open,” said Matthew Collins, Library Director. Students ha ve had few options for study and social spaces since the construction began. Now that the space is available, students ha ve been using it consistently.

Students ha ve had mixed reactions to the Learning Commons since it opened. W hile students have been frequently using study spaces, ongoing construction and supply chain issues have impacted how students are able to utilize the Learning Commons. The most popular concerns among students have been the lack of doors for study rooms, as well as the limited cosmetic designs within common spaces.

“After understanding the need for modernization, I still think that the current Learning Commons could do with more color and decorative aspects throughout,” said Maxwell VanZant (‘23), Learning Commons Student Manager. There are currently plans to implement more college-related decorations, but those changes can only happen after all the construction is nearly complete.

“I hope the rest of the doors come in soon since I think that is the one thing many people have reservations about,” said Victoria LeCureux (‘24), a student worker at the Learning Commons.

Because of supply chain issues, most of the study rooms do not ha ve doors. Because of this, it is difficult to find a private space apart from any public areas.

Doors for study rooms had been ordered well in advance of the Learning Commons opening, but due to national supply chain issues, the order continued to be pushed back. While some of the doors arrived within the last few weeks, most of them have yet to be shipped in.

“Even with the heavy construction, the Lower Level remains the location with the highest amount of student traffic and is used for a myriad of events and activities,” said VanZant. Despite complaints they had about the space, students still use the Learning Commons as a vital resource.

Ever since the height of the COVID pandemic, students ha ve struggled with finding spaces to gather and form a community. The Learning Commons building has also served as the ‘heart of the campus,’ both in its location in the center of campus as well as its function as a social hub for students. Hopefully, construction will be near completion by the Fall 2023 semester.

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