Students have seen an abundance of changes geared toward an emphasis on discipleship this semester, including the chapel theme of Walking in the Spirit and the reformatted and renamed discipleship groups. But perhaps the most talked-about change is the renovation of the Campus Store and Snack Shop into an ideal spot for fellowship – The Den – thus allowing the very campus to help foster discipleship among students.
Describing The Den is tough because it’s a lot of things put together. In theory, you could buy a slice of pizza, pick up a textbook, watch a Bruins game and get a cup of coffee, all without leaving the building. But, even more impressive than the variation contained within this new hub of campus, is the fact that the area maintains a low noise level. The Den manages to be a study lounge without the mandated silence, a restaurant without the commotion and a coffee shop without the lousy Wi-Fi and uncomfortable chairs.
The idea for The Den was conceived in the spring of 2013, when the administration, headed up by Dr. Stephen Jones, decided on projects to tackle during summer break. These months are used to make improvements that wouldn’t be possible with a campus full of people. The main elements considered when choosing summer projects are student feedback surveys, time constraints and financial resources.
One of the improvements most requested by students was an expanded socializing area. Coinciding with this request was the increase in online book sales and the decline of brick-and-mortar bookstores, which provided a nice compromise: downsize the book collection on campus to provide more space for fellowship.
The Facilities Management staff had approximately 88 days of summer to turn the initial renderings of The Den shown in chapel into a reality. With projects of this nature, things don’t always turn out as planned. But, when asked if the project met their expectations, both Dr. Eric Newton, dean of students, and Mr. Steve Hensley, chief facilities management officer and overseer of the renovation project, said The Den turned out exactly, if not better, than they were expecting.
And the student body echoes their approval.
Jeremy Kramer, a freshman business administration major, Maria Savchenko, a sophomore Christian ministries major, and Caleb Murphy, a freshman cinema production major said they like to hang out in The Den because it provides an environment where sports watchers, studiers and socializers can all peacefully coexist.
“It has a very diverse atmosphere.” Murphy said.
Hannah Till, a freshman harp performance major, agrees, saying, “[The Den] is quiet enough to study, but loud enough to talk.”
With such a diverse atmosphere, The Den provides a place for mentors to mentor, evangelists to evangelize, foodies to eat, caffeine addicts to get good coffee, social butterflies to socialize and bookworms to read. Whoever you are and whatever you need to do, The Den welcomes you.