When I started at Drexel University four years ago, it was not easy coming to terms with accepting my status as a commuter. I almost always struggled finding a decent place to unwind, and usually ended up resorting to the commuter lounge, honors lounge, the library, the rec center or a random empty classroom. And then I got to briefly experience living on campus at university-affiliated housing for my second year. I enjoyed the convenience of waking up and running to class in five minutes or napping on my bed in the afternoon on days when I had 8 a.m. quizzes or exams. But after I finished my first co-op in West Chester, Pennsylvania, where I had to drive 50 minutes in the morning and more than an hour in the afternoon, it opened my eyes and made me believe that my commute to Drexel was not so bad after all.
While I no longer consider my 20-minute drive to campus a hassle, being a commuter is especially dreadful on days when I must be on campus for almost 12 hours. The saying goes, “Home is not a place…it’s a feeling” and I was not able to relate to this feeling for the longest while. That is, until this term began, and I came across this room next to the Campus Activities Board office every time I walked towards the elevators in MacAlister Hall. It is hard to miss with the big sign “Writers Room” and I was misled into thinking that it was probably for writers only.
It was only after my friend Briyanna Hymms, a senior majoring in biology in the College of Arts and Sciences, gave me a tour of the place and I had talked to some of the people inside, that I found out it was open to everyone. With a very warm and welcoming environment, the entrance area is surrounded by chalk walls and walking to the left brings you into an open area with a long, wooden table and some chairs. And it only gets better as you walk past the open area and into one of their two collaboration rooms. You are guaranteed to have your eyes blessed with what looks like a place straight out of some Pinterest DIY room inspiration board. But the best kept secret is actually further inside, where there is a dimly lit room with twinkling string lights hanging from the ceiling and bookshelves lining the dark, brick walls from top to bottom.
However, I was not the first to see something unique there. In fact, the Writers Room is particularly special for Lauren Lowe, BA English ’17 and Writers Room member, who saw the space transformed from a former facilities office. She mentions the original space being barren with just a desk and corkboard on the wall — much different from the modernized look it has today. Lowe shared that she supported the head designer Rachel Wenrick, English professor and Writers Room director, with the Pinterest-inspired redesign. This took place during the fall term in 2017, and the new room was opened to public after Dec. 7. Lowe and Wenrick shared similar expectations of the Writers Room, hoping that others will also have a place like this where they can think and relax and call it home. And when Hymms, a frequent visitor of the Writers Room, was asked about her favorite part of the room, she replied, “Everything is my favorite part. This place is now my second home.
Regardless of your interest in writing, whether you are a student, faculty, staff or alumna, the Writers Room is open to all Drexel community members. As this is too nice of a place to keep a secret for long, and as good things are meant to be shared, I wanted to share this discovery of mine with others. Although the room is an open space for all, it is especially reassuring for a commuter like me who has been on this never-ending quest to find my home away from home on campus.
If you are interested in finding out more about the background of the space and how it came together, you can read this Triangle article.
If you are looking to get involved in Writers Room, you are invited to drop by the new space or you can attend the monthly First Tuesday workshops at the Dornsife Center. The complete schedule of workshops and upcoming events are available if you visit Writers Room’s website.
All photos of Writers Room used in this story are credited to Briyanna Hymms.
By Hazara Begum, a junior BS/MS student in biomedical engineering in the School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems and a Pennoni Honors College student, as part of the winter 2018 "Writing for Drexel Publication" Pennoni Honors College course.