Room 310 in the Chemistry Building used to be just another storage space at the end of a hallway. It was cluttered with desks and books and was rarely visited by students or professors. But under all those chairs and textbooks, senior chemistry major Jake Levene saw the potential for a new student lounge.
In November, Levene sent out a survey to students asking what they would use a lounge for and what they would like to see in one. Then, in December, Levene began the physical process of changing the room from a storage space to an open and welcoming student lounge.
“It’s come a long way since the dusty, old storage space that it was,” Levene said.
According to Levene, he got the idea to create the space after having a discussion with the Student Chemistry Association’s faculty advisor, Dr. Abby O’Connor. As a senior, he has a lighter schedule, so Levene said he was more than willing to take the project head-on.
“(O’Connor) mentioned that professors were kind of unhappy with having the students gather on the second floor near the professors’ offices, and that’s been going on for years,” Levene said. “They didn’t mind it, but sometimes students can get rowdy and it gets loud, and so she put in my mind that maybe we can have a new space for students.”
The Levenium Lounge, which is named after Levene himself, includes a chalk board, Keurig, refrigerator, microwave, couch, table and Periodic Table-themed mural that was painted by the chemistry club. The lounge is also home to a library. According to Levene, the old space had about 3,000 books, so he chose to keep eight shelves worth of books.
“A lot of them were old chemistry journals dating back to the 1960s, going all the way up through this year, that were owned by the head of the department,” Levene said. “He had no use for them because they were sitting there collecting dust, and when I was going through all these books, I happened to find a lot of textbooks that were copies or slightly older versions of things that we currently use, so I kind of got the idea to make a library for students to use because that way they don’t have to go to the actual library to rent a book — it’s right here. It has textbooks and solutions manuals and lab books and basically everything you could want.”
The lounge opened on Monday, March 24, and according to Levene, students and professors enjoy the lounge so far and use it every day.
“They love it,” Levene said. “They love the mural in particular because it’s really cool. They come into the lounge and they’re like, ‘Wow, this is a really good space.’ A couple of professors have told me they’re excited to use it in the summer for MUSE. Before, you could have group meetings but it was uncomfortable, and now it’s so much easier for kids to stand up there and talk about their research and they don’t feel like they’re crowded.”
Levene is graduating this year and said it is pretty cool that he will have some sort of legacy at the College. He hopes the lounge will continue to be a place where students can go to study and relax in between class time.
“I’m hoping it will continue to grow,” Levene said. “One of the chemistry club’s traditions is to do a type of mural every year. We have blank walls here, which gives us space to customize our lounge. We can do what we want with this space because it’s truly ours and truly up to the students, so they can paint whatever they want on the walls.”