The couch in a Byrum lobby is a memory map. That spot on the edge of the arm is from Thursday’s wild night out. The splatters on the cushion are from spilling Coca-Cola while playing Cards against Humanity. The circle on the back rest is from the escapade with the cute boy from down the hall two months ago.
The memories are lovely, but it is time for the public stains to go. That is why the residence life office at Queens University of Charlotte, now led by Amber Perrell, has a new focus: to improve the lives of the students living in the residence halls, starting as soon as possible.
“That’s my goal for this year: for you guys to be happier in your residential experience,” Perrell said.
Perrell and the resident assistants (RAs) have started a conversation about hall lobbies.
She added, “They’re great spaces, but the furniture is out of date or not very comfortable. Students want to sit together and just study; you see them doing that all over campus. But in residence halls everyone wants to just sit in their rooms. So we are trying to figure out what it would take to make those more engaging spaces.”
Kennedy Lewis, 21, is a senior RA in Byrum Hall. She added “I went from Albright to HBO for two years. I’m not used to not knowing everyone on my hall…I [want] to make it like freshman year where the doors are always open.”
Doorstops would be one way to create that sense of community in Byrum Hall. Doorstops are a fire hazard, however. If there is a fire, the idea is for the door to close and contain the fire in one space. The room doors in dormitories like Albright Hall and Barnhardt Hall remain open without doorstops because they were built at a time when fire codes were different.
To try and create the “engaging spaces” Perrell mentioned, students around Queens were asked to answer brief surveys about what they would like to see in their hall lobbies.
One hundred students were interviewed. Out of them, 69 wanted to see game tables in residence halls. Pool and air hockey tables were the top favorites. Students also suggested bean bags, recliners and cleaner, comfier couches for the lobbies. There are 44 Royals who want to see Xbox Ones and 38 who want to see Playstations used to build communities.
One sophomore requested that campus services, “paint the walls anything besides nasty beige.”
Students who wished the dorms were more colorful suggested art on the walls, bright pieces of furniture or even accent walls. Students also had some wilder requests like hot tubs, an open bar and mattress surfing.
“I’m not saying it’s going to happen, but I want to push for those things,” Perrell said. “What do the students want those lobbies to be? I’m in the ‘let’s explore possibilities’ frame of mind; it’s a happy place to be.”
A happy place at Queens, according to students, is one where the couches are clean, rooms are inviting and memory maps are in the form of photographs.