After its debut in 1925, the Union Women’s Lounge was a place to wait for rides to swing by the south side of the building. Since then, it has transformed into a secluded study space.
For prenursing freshman Emily Allen, it has become her go-to quiet place.
The lobby of the Union used to be a place where men and women would meet, socialize and hold events such as dances, Union manager Tami Kuhn said. At the time, she said women and men had separate residence halls.
“One of the reasons for the Women’s Lounge was so that women could wait for rides in a safe place, so they didn’t have to wait outside,” Kuhn said. “The Women’s Lounge was very much a sanctuary for women.”
The rest of the Union is filled with students conversing, TVs blaring and Biggby Coffee’s espresso machines. The only room on the first floor with a silence policy is the Women’s Lounge.
Now, the space is often used for studying, napping and relaxing. Human resource management senior Erin Cooper has been consistently visiting the Women’s Lounge for the last two years, taking advantage of the couches inside, which she finds comfortable when doing homework. She said she prefers it compared to other places on campus.
“I hate the library because of the buzzing lights, all of the florescent lights — I kind of like to be by the windows more,” Cooper said. “The atmosphere is just more calm and the comfort of it is much nicer. I’d rather be comfortable when I’m studying than be sitting at a desk.”
Cooper has noticed women napping on the couches in between classes, showing that they feel comfortable with the space. She appreciates it as a way to be secluded from men, and, along with others, stares if they dare to enter. This happened during one of her recent study sessions.
“It just kind of shows that he’s the one out of place, where sometimes we feel like we are the ones out of place in a man’s world at times,” Cooper said. “It’s kind of nice to be the one that says, ‘That guy needs to get the hell out of here.’”
The Women’s Lounge underwent renovations this past summer, including new paint, furniture, carpet and restroom upgrades. Kuhn said that they wanted to hold this room to the same standards as the rest of the first floor.
“For a lot of women, especially alumni, they just treasure that space,” she said. “I’m glad that we are able to offer a space like that on campus ... every year more and more women find that space and really come to appreciate what they have available to them there.”