This past October, we opened up a brand new Student Center. Needless to say, our office, the Office of Student Life, was quite worried about the damages that could potentially occur to our furniture within this new facility. Indeed, we had ordered brand new couches and tables for the carpeted area and brand new tables and chairs for the area which was housing the full-service Dunkin’ Donuts and Pizza station.
My coworkers and I discussed our anxieties about students leaving their trash in the Student Center, or students putting up their feet on the couches and/or tables. We wanted the students to treat the Student Center as if it was their home, but in making that statement we realized that many do treat their homes in a seemingly disrespectful manner.
However, with our anxieties in check, we unleashed the full student body population of 17,500, spread across three campuses, into our newly renovated facility and waited for the first report of damaged furniture. But days, weeks, and months passed, and no reports came. We diligently watched our students and asked them to not put their feet up on our communal furniture. We asked that they eat only within the food court of the Student Center and not in the carpeted area as we would all like to keep our space clean. We stressed to them that this was their facility, and we wanted to keep it nice for years to come.
By the end of the past academic year, my coworkers and I were proud to say that not one piece of furniture had been damaged since the opening of that space in October. Sure, there were and still are small maintenance issues, but our cubicle spaces meant for clubs and communal space/furniture for all students to use are still in pristine condition.
How did it remain this way you ask? Well, in my opinion, if the students are asked to respect the space in which they spend most of their time, it seems they do it. A little bit of faith goes a long way. Undoubtedly, the students recognized that this newly renovated space was intend for their use primarily and that our constant nagging in keeping it clean had to do with our desire in providing them with a space to utilize for years to come. It is my firm belief that the students respected the space because they knew it was truly meant for them.
How do you keep your student centers in tip-top shape?
is the Coordinator of Judicial Affairs and Student Information at Bergen Community College.
Juhi works between the Center for Student Success as a career and transfer counselor and a judicial affairs coordinator within the Office of Student Life and Judicial Affairs. Additionally, she manages the information desk within the new Student Center.