The C-Store that once occupied a central space in Lower Beamer is currently being remodeled into an area in which students can congregate. Construction began Aug. 5 and is set to be completed Sept. 30.
The C-Store sold groceries, candy, medicine and other small items on campus, but its prime location in Lower Beamer convinced Steve Ivester, Dean for Student Engagement, that the area needed to be repurposed to provide more space for students to study, meet and hang out.
Several years ago, Ivester pitched the idea to renovate the C-Store to Student Government. Ivester began monitoring the value of the C-Store on campus in contrast with the value of the space in a consistently overcrowded Lower Beamer.
“ right in the heart of the student center. Is that the best use of space for a C-Store versus student programing and hangout space?” Ivester recalled asking himself. When Student Government conducted surveys of the student body, the results did not strongly favor either option.
Ivester observed that student meeting areas in Lower Beamer had slowly become offices, so he submitted a proposal to the Senior Administrative Cabinet for funds to repurpose the space into a lounge area and decentralize the resources of the C-store to other venues on campus.
“Essential to the philosophy of Lower Beamer is to cultivate a living room atmosphere for students,” Ivester said, but “There’s rarely an empty table or empty couches.” He observes students often walking “the Stupe loop,” repeatedly roaming Lower Beamer in search of a free seat. “For a student body of 2,400, our living room is pretty small for us,” Ivester reasoned.
But Ivester’s vision doesn’t end with this remodel. He hopes to eventually create a space with “an inviting atmosphere that would be much like a coffee shop,” including new wood paneling, a larger area for group meetings with gigantic booths, more tables and chairs and a portable stage to encourage more campus-wide events.
Although the importance of space outweighed the value of a C-Store, students like sophomore Sydney Chang, who used the C-Store often, are disappointed by its closure.
“I actually spent a lot of time in there because I like candy, and I like cheaper prices, so I would go in there like everyday and just look around, but I do think that the average student used it once a week just to grab small things,” she explained.
Still, Chang agrees that student seating is an important concern. “There not a lot of places that stay open late and lower beamer is the place that stays open the longest,” Chang said, adding that more seating could improve student’s ability to study and work in groups.
Randy Norbeck, director of construction services, says that the renovations are going according to schedule and the seating area will be open in late September as planned. Construction of the new space has started, and walls will soon be repaired and repainted. Norbeck believes the construction will both alleviate congestion in Lower Beamer and allow “students to have more space available to really have community and to take a break from their studies.”
The bookstore will now provide many of the high-demand items that the C-Store formerly sold, and the area created by the renovations will be named the “Vos Lounge” after the Vos family, who funded a previous reading room in Lower Beamer that became the International Student Programs Office.