With more than 160 campus organizations on The Hill, Denison student leaders knew there was no feasible way to give each group a dedicated home of its own.
“There’s only so much real estate to go around,” Alex Pan ’24 said.
So, the Denison Campus Governance Association came at the issue from another direction.
“They began thinking that since we can’t give everyone their own space, how can we create a space for everyone?” said Dana Pursley, director of the Alford Community Leadership & Involvement Center (CLIC).
“It was all driven by student government,” said Patrick Fina, an associate director at CLIC.
In March 2023, student senators unanimously voted to fund $150,000 to renovate a largely idle space in the basement of Huffman Hall that once housed the Office of Community Values & Student Conduct.
They decided to call the revamped space the Huffman Innovation Leadership Lounge — HILL for short — and design it as a hub for student groups. It opened on Jan. 17.
“I want this to be the crown jewel of East Quad,” said Pan, who was student body president when the project was approved.
The renovation packs a punch. Three conference rooms can be reserved through the campus engagement platform WhatToDU. Each has a different vibe, from casual crash-pad to executive boardroom.
The common area is arranged so several groups can meet simultaneously, and a separate room is filled with arts-related supplies, should a club need to produce posters or flyers.
Students helped to choose the furnishings and guided the overall design. Colors are bright, seating is durable but comfortable, and materials are largely recycled. Photographs of current students adorn the walls, and CLIC hopes to freshen them up as the student body changes from year to year.
“We wanted it to feel ‘Denison,’” Fina said.
All student leaders of Denison’s recognized campus organizations — about 700 students in all — have swipe access to the lounge.
While there are a few intimate nooks and the reservable rooms have doors, “we don’t want this to turn into a silent study space,” Pursley said.
Instead, she and Fina hope the lounge serves as a meeting place where students with disparate interests and perspectives come together, share ideas, and strike out together in new directions.
“That’s the whole point of the liberal arts,” Pan said.