The second floor of the Bowld Student Commons used to be simply a room for students to study and hang out. However, on March 12, a group of social work students transformed the area into the “Care and Comfort Room,” a haven for students, faculty and staff to relax in one of three massage chairs, enjoy refreshments and de-stress from the semester’s tragic events and tighter schedule.
The room is the result of a partnership between the Assistant Dean of Student’s Office and the School of Social Work.
Jacqueline Taylor, assistant dean of students, initiated the project and asked Social Work Reaches Out, a student-led social work organization, to aid in the implementation and upkeep of the room.
“This semester has been so rough, with the tragedy and everything, so we wanted to help students have a safe place to go,” said Rebecca Leon, junior social work major and the organization’s president. “There’s a lot of those [places] around campus, but we wanted to make this another one to draw in students. It’s our Student Life leaders trying to make another place to care for the students.”
However, the Care and Comfort Room is not completely new to campus; Taylor’s office implemented the idea in the spring of 2008 after a devastating tornado hit Union’s campus.
The vision behind the room was the same: to provide comfort and support to students during a difficult time.
“We’re trying to meet students where they are as needs arise,” Taylor said. “That’s something we wanted to make sure we brought back to the campus during this spring as part of our counseling support services, especially since there’s been a lot of transition, physically and emotionally. We wanted to provide comfort for our campus in a significant way.”
Leon and a group of five other Social Work Reaches Out members check the room about four to five times a day to replenish the water and snacks.
Michael Messmer, junior social work major and also a member of the social work group, checks the room once a day. He said all the feedback he has heard has been positive and students are enjoying the snacks and especially the massage chairs.
“Every time I’m up there in the afternoon, there are students in the [massage] chairs,” Messmer said.
Leon said the chairs and snacks will remain in the Bowld until the end of the semester.
Wal-Mart donated $550 to buy the first round of refreshments for the snack tables, and the Dean of Students office purchased the three massage chairs, which will be permanent fixtures on campus.
The Office of Student Services provided he funds for the room’s other expenses.
“We truly care about the comfort of our entire Union community, and it is so good to have partners in this endeavor on and off campus who support the holistic well-being of our students, faculty and staff,” Taylor said. “I know that each person who visits is able to take a moment to meditate and relax and feel comforted within our campus community.”
Taylor said the idea behind the Care and Comfort Room has spread to other areas of campus, and she hopes that “in the days ahead we can look towards providing those kinds of comforting spaces in other areas of campus.”
“At first, I was told that that were massage chairs by my friend. I didn’t believe him, but then I saw them for myself and they were very easy to use and conveniently placed,” said Riley Pope, sophomore digital media studies major. “I am impressed with the work [SWRO] has done and the fact they are trying to make our everyday lives more relaxing and comfortable.”
“I loved the refreshments, it was so unexpected because I knew about the Care and Comfort Room, and I had been having a tiring day,” said Anna McKelvey, sophomore TESL major. “Then, I found out there were donuts that morning and it brightened up my day.”