The student lounge within New Dorm A, a space that previously served the Global Brown Center for International Students, was reclassified this summer for use by the Office of Military-Affiliated Students due to limited space for student-centered organizations.
The GBC moved out of the lounge after learning of a reduced budget and the need to cut costs last April, according to Christina Bonnell, program director for the Global Brown Center. It only took a few weeks of budget discussion to decide to give the space to OMAS, she added. The GBC currently uses Page Robinson 312 as another community space.
As of last May, OMAS was housed in “an inaccessible, difficult to find space on the Campus Center third floor,” Bonnell said. The New Dorm lounge presented a valuable opportunity to move into a more accessible space, which is essential for military-affiliated students, said Kimberly Millette, program director for OMAS. Among the military-affiliated undergraduates at the University, 21 are veterans and most of them live off-campus.
“Most veterans commute, and it’s important for them to have a relaxed community space (on campus),” Millette added.
Both OMAS and GBC have struggled in recent years to remain in one designated community space. Prior to the GBC’s move to Page Robinson in January 2018, the OMAS was located in the same room. They were then relocated to the campus center, which was small, unrenovated and difficult to reach, and has since been converted to office space, Millette said.
“OMAS is thankful to GBC for offering this accessible space,” Millette said, speaking for the military-affiliated students. Since the office’s move, typically between six and twelve students use the space in New Dorm A at any given time of day. In addition to veterans, other students who use the space in New Dorm A include undergraduate and graduate students who are ROTC members, military-dependents, active duty and guard and reserve. Millette’s office is also located there. No major changes have been made to the lounge, but the OMAS added new decor relating to the military and rearranged future, Millette said. Additionally, OMAS has created a group study space connected to the lounge with a big table and comfortable chairs.
The New Dorm A space was used by a considerably smaller proportion of international students, according to Mojo Alabi ’21, a student community programing coordinator for GBC. While Bonnell reports that there are upwards of 1800 international students at the University, Alabi recalls stopping in only “every two weeks or so.” She did not frequently use the space, nor did she know many other international students who did. Ultimately, Alabi was glad that the GBC maintained their space in Page Robinson.
“The Page Robinson space has been the location for many community building programs,” Alabi said. “It gives a sense of familiarity, belonging and home to international students.”