Student Center for Diversity and Inclusion Opens New Spaces

A new lounge space and a new private room for meetings or appointments opened at the beginning of the 2023 academic year.
Student Center for Diversity and Inclusion lounge
The new lounge space. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Thorndike-Gonzales. 

Need some space? Drexel University’s Student Center for Diversity and Inclusion (SCDI) has you covered. As of the beginning of the fall 2023 term, the center, located in the Rush Building, has two new spaces for students to lounge or take meetings.

There is a large, living room-like lounge, which is a converted classroom with couches, beanbags, board games, a TV and even a Nintendo Switch for students to check out. The other new space is a private room for students to reserve for Zoom meetings, interviews, virtual doctor’s appointments or anything that requires a bit of peace and quiet.

The latter, converted from the SCDI’s rarely used lactation room, was an amenity highly requested by students seeking space for therapy appointments and Zoom meetings, said SCDI associate director Jennifer Thorndike-Gonzales. Only one person can use it at a time and the door locks, so there’s no concern about someone walking in on a sensitive meeting. It’s at the end of the hall, too, so noise from passing people is minimal.

“Before, if a student needed a private space, we would open our classrooms, but those are also used by professors giving class or hosting events,” Thorndike-Gonzales said. “It wasn’t ideal. That’s why I got the idea for this space, because students were asking us if we had a private place. Now we have it.”

shirt closet in flex room
Shirts in the flex room. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Thorndike-Gonzales. 

You can reserve the private room by leaving your DragonCard with SCDI staff, and inside there’s a ring light and table for your laptop. If you’re using the room for an interview, there’s also a shared closet with work-appropriate shirts, blouses and blazers in sizes XS to 2XL you can borrow for a professional look during a video meeting.

The lounge space, on the other hand, is an open-concept “living room”-like space, Thorndike Gonzales said. There are both couches for relaxing and tables where students can eat meals, plus a microwave for heating up said meals. Students can make what they want of the space by using it for studying or coming together for game or movie nights, because the SCDI has board games and a Nintendo Switch to check out and a TV students can connect to.

“I wanted to make it a space where students feel welcome and they are cozy, and I want them to feel relaxed and happy there,” Thorndike-Gonzales said, adding that she also picked furniture to add color to the space.

Though the grand opening wasn’t until Sept. 29, Thorndike-Gonzales invited students into the spaces around the start of the quarter. Students started using the spaces immediately, and Thorndike-Gonzales said she heard gratitude and good feedback about them.

“We didn't have a big space where students can hang out together,” Thorndike-Gonzales said. “We had the small lounge spaces that usually are used by one or two students at a time, but now we have a space where people can build community and be more in larger groups. It just has a different feeling from the smaller spaces we still have here in the SCDI.”

The lounge and private room are only two of several spaces the SCDI supports; among the others are a library, meditation room, prayer room, sensory room, other lounge spaces and classrooms and Mario’s Market, a free food pantry that provides for students, faculty and professional staff. Everything is within the Rush Building, and everyone is welcome.

“Everyone is welcome here to study, to rest and to have some time for themselves because we have plenty of space,” Thorndike-Gonzales said.