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New ESL 'Quiet Room' emphasizes wellness and diversity

As students struggle to balance the demands of classes, internships, work and personal well-being, dedicated quiet spaces are becoming more popular across college campuses.

The creation of the ElectroScience Laboratory’s (ESL) new "Quiet Room" at The Ohio State University, however, was inspired after a student attacked pedestrians near Watts Hall on campus in November 2016. Not only did the incident highlight the importance of providing increased wellness opportunities, it revealed how overlooking such needs may have serious outcomes.

“In the aftermath of the horrific event that occurred last November, our faculty, students and staff participated in meetings to have an open dialogue about the event, share thoughts, and be supportive of each other,” Yesim Anter said, assistant director at ESL. “One of our faculty members came up with an idea of having a meditation or prayer room at ESL for the members of our community who may be looking for a space to practice their daily spiritual needs.”

The world-reknown ESL is home to nearly 150 faculty, researchers and students with different backgrounds, cultures, nationalities and belief systems, all conducting innovative work. For them, Anter said, the Quiet Room is an inclusive and safe environment to encourage work and life balance, hopefully leading to greater satisfaction, productivity and overall morale.

On June 1, a group of ESL students was using the room to conduct afternoon prayer services.

ESL Graduate Research Associate, Shah Chowdhury, said he is among those taking advantage of the new space daily.

“I much appreciate this initiative. Before that, we had to look for empty meeting rooms for prayer. But now there is a fixed and dedicated place which I believe is convenient for everyone,” he said.

Anter said the undergraduate and graduate student communities gave the idea positive feedback in an open forum last December as well. ESL administrators looked to the meditation room in the Ohio Union, among other places, for best practices on how to plan, create, and open a supportive space for students. A former ESL office was renovated and officially opened in mid-May as the Quiet Room. This space can be used for lactation purposes by mothers, reading, meditation, prayer, or physical activities such as yoga.

The Quiet Room is in ESL 251, which comes equipped with a desk, chair, two-seater couch, a side table, floor space and access to wi-fi.

Anter said the space is open to all ESL students, faculty, and staff during “open” hours of the day, which are marked on the ESL Quiet Room calendar. People may reserve the room during non-open hours as well. For now, she said the reserve requests are being limited to under two-hour segments. Any requests for private use beyond two hours are up for review.

To give feedback about the Quiet Room, take the ESL anonymous survey. For more information, contact Anter at: anter.2@osu.edu

Article by Ohio State ECE Student PR Writer, Ravleen Kaur