Elrod Commons to undergo renovation

Grace Mamon

Elrod Commons, built in 2002 to function as the “living room” of campus, will undergo a renovation of its second and third floors be-ginning this summer.

The goal of the renovation is to redesign the space around the diversity center, according to Kelsey Goodwin, director of student activities.

But the renovation will do more than just maximize space for the Office of Inclusion and Engagement.

“Some of the biggest changes will include the new location of the sacred space on the second floor, the move of Executive Committee offices to the third floor, and the new and improved meeting spaces we will be able to use for events and programs,” Goodwin said.

Students and facilities staff are preparing for the renovation by cleaning out the third floor of commons. Photo by Grace Mamon, ‘22.

One of these new meeting spaces will be a large multipurpose room, which can be used for a variety of different events, including lectures, guest speakers and club meetings. Office space for OIE staff will border this multipurpose room.

Another addition will be a makerspace for student organizations, where students can paint banners or create signs.

“I am most excited about the area we have been referring to as our new makerspace, which will be collaborative workspace for student organizations,” Goodwin said. “Overall, I think the redesign has really approached student use of the space thought-fully, and I think students will be pleased with the finished product.”

But the renovation will also require some sacrifices.

The large student activities room and publication offices on the third floor of Commons will be moved to the second floor after the renovation, and will occupy a much smaller space.

In some ways this is a good thing, say student organization leaders, because the third floor is very cluttered with boxes of old t-shirts or paraphernalia from previous years.

“The third floor right now in a lot of ways is very much unused space,” Donald Le-Compte, ‘21, said.

LeCompte is a member of the Contact Committee which has a cubicle on the third floor. He said the organization mainly uses the space for storage, which will become a concern with a smaller space.

LeCompte also said the third floor is a special, almost “homey” place for student organizations.

“It’s one of the only student-driven spaces on campus, where students can kind of go in and make it their own,” he said. “It’ll be tough not having that for a year, definitely. Hopefully we’ll still have some of that after the renovation.”

The renovated space will have lockers and storage rooms instead of cubicles, but the potential for storage will be greatly reduced. And the publication offices on the third floor will be combined into one.

The In General magazine and Calyx, the university yearbook, currently share an office adjacent to the Ring-tum Phi office on the third floor. In the renovated space, all three publications will share one office that borders the student activities space.

Emma Smith, ‘23, who works on the Calyx team, said her biggest concern about a shared office is storage space. Calyx has to keep one copy of every book they’ve ever published, she said.

“There are over 100,” Smith said. “I think it’s going to be kind of tight, just because we are sharing with so many different publications. But I think it’ll be nice to have a new space.”

Until the renovation is complete, Smith said the publications will share the Gaines basement with Mock Convention for storage space and potentially office space.

“We’re trying to find a more temporary office space, which might move around,” Smith said. “We’re planning to work from our lap-tops a lot next year.” Smith will be on campus when the renovation is complete in 2022, but LeCompte, and many other students, will not be.

“It’d be cool to see what it looks like,” Le-Compte said. “Hopefully one day.”

Smith said it’ll be exciting to come back to campus and see the new layout of Commons.

“Based on the renovation plans I’ve seen, there’s a lot of big shared spaces for meetings, which is nice,” Smith said.

She said that even though Calyx will lose its current office space, there is a lot of good that will come of the renovation.

“[Third floor] space kind of goes to waste. So I think they’re definitely making better use of the space,” Smith said. “I wish we had maybe a bigger office or our own space, but I think it’ll benefit everyone overall much better.”