The long-anticipated reopening of Iowa Hall has provided Kirkwood Community College students with three levels of exciting spaces to explore this fall. Additions include a full cafeteria, indoor access from other campus buildings and a myriad of new areas for gathering and studying.
Just up the open stairwell from the ground to second floor, students may have noticed a few specially dedicated rooms. Kirkwood now has a Pride Lounge and a Multicultural Lounge.
“It’s just like all of the other lounges here at Kirkwood for people in a specific community, where they can come together and hang out, do homework and study and just be themselves. Because that is what pride is all about, the belief in one’s self,” shared Robin Cooper, an exercise science and fitness student found studying in the Pride Lounge. “I am so glad that Kirkwood built multiple lounges for people in different communities to come together and just hang out with one another.”
When asked if allies were welcome, Cooper shared, “This is a lounge for everyone, not just LGBTQ+ people. It’s open to all people, they are open to everyone. If you are comfortable, please join us. We don’t bite! Just because it is a Pride Lounge, it isn’t meant to be exclusive, but inclusive for all.”
Gratitude for the Multicultural Lounge was shared by Angel, an apparel merchandising and design student at Kirkwood studying fashion. “At first, I didn’t know that all of this was over here in Iowa Hall. I just knew they were building something. The first day I came over here I was excited because I saw that we had our own lounge to chill in. Normally, I just feel kind of left out here at the school, because there’s not that much for people of color around the school. I felt like I was comfortable enough to come in here, and so I have been coming in every chance I get, like between class periods.”
As stated on the posted descriptions, the lounges are an “LGBTQ+ friendly/racially inclusive space open to all students, faculty and staff with a commitment to respect and support the communities listed. Regardless of your sexual orientation, identity, race, ethnicity, gender, this is a safe space for you to engage with others, study or simply spend some time between classes.”
“They are giving everybody a chance to be more comfortable – that’s why there are so many seats out there. So, if someone doesn’t want to be around other people, they can have their own individual chair. The whole Iowa Hall is split up into different ways – it’s cool that way. Before it was so small,” commented Angel on the changes at the student center.
She added, “It’s nice to have a place to go. And I like that.”
JoEllen is a non-traditional student, wife and mother – learning new skills in the Digital Arts program at Kirkwood. She is a writer, photographer, digital artist and lover of life.