New Ensor Comes with New Rules

Ensor Lounge received a small makeover this semester with the addition of new furniture. However, students and faculty have mixed feelings about new rules for how the space can be used. Photo by Melanie Ojwang.

Recently, Ensor Lounge underwent a facelift, but new furniture is not the only thing different about the space. Ensor Lounge is no longer available as a space that can be reserved by organizations, academic or otherwise.

Whether or not the change is permanent is yet to be decided. When asked about the changes, Dean Gerl, Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs, stated that the President’s Council is waiting to see how the space progresses through the semester.

“The plan has been that we wanted to take a semester and really focus on creating a communal space and not having large events go on in the middle of it to take away from the way that it’s now arranged,” Gerl said.

The functionality of the new furniture in Ensor is the main focus of the President’s Council. Their goal was to update the lounge and provide students with a better space to relax. Dean Gerl and Provost Jeanine Stewart, have heard several positive comments from students.

However some students, like junior and OSE intern Roger Isom, questions whether the new furniture has truly made that large of an impact. He also pointed out the restriction this change places on clubs and student organizations that are looking to plan events.

“In Rotaract, we thought it would be nice to have a meeting in Ensor to attract students to check us out,” Isom said. “You never know when a student passing through Ensor may be interested in joining.”

Academic events typically held in Ensor have also been uprooted by the new policy. Dr. Lemke of the sociology department has also contacted Dean Gerl and the Provost about the change, needing the location for the sociology capstone displays.

Dean Gerl countered these concerns with a suggestion of utilizing other spaces. She is confident that organizations will be able to take advantage of lesser-used spaces on campus.

“The provost was working to help people find other locations. We have some primo spots for those kinds of things,” Gerl said. “How can we make this all work and still have a beautiful facility like what we have out here?”

Isom agreed that the change will push groups to be more creative with event planning but also voiced a desire for an even bigger change.

“This college will have to accommodate the students and the clubs here on campus,” Isom said. “The lack of availability in space means another change needs to occur very soon that benefits the needs of a club.”

This change would manifest in the creation of a student center. A few clubrooms on campus already exist for a few organizations, but a student center would provide more spaces for groups to organize events. However the issue that remains is space. The college would first need to find the space — and resources — to create such an area before a plan could take place.

For now, the President’s Council is focused on renovating current spaces, revitalizing Decker College Center piece by piece.

Groups can still unofficially meet in Ensor. The therapy dogs that come to campus periodically gather in the area. Additionally, the windows can still be used for posters. Ensor may no longer be available to be reserved, but the President’s Council is pleased with what they have seen so far.

“This is what the College hoped would happen. That by having new furniture, and very different furniture from what was out there before, that it’s offering a venue for students, and other members of the campus community to comfortably connect and relax,” Dean Gerl said. “There’s never been any intent in any way except to have a really great space out there that students can enjoy.”