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Virginia Rendler

A Peaceful Hangout

by Virginia Rendler '20 | Jan 29, 2019

My primary identifier on the MU campus, even more important than gender or hometown, is the fact that I am a peace studies major. It’s what I say when I introduce myself, how I explain my friend group, what I do on a daily basis and how I structure my college experience. When people ask something about me, I can usually answer the question with, “Well, I’m a peace studies major.” I have been a peace studies major since the moment I stepped foot on campus, and have never had any quandaries about changing, only adding other programs to augment my learning experience.

            I think that in college people are meant to change their major at least once, or come in undecided and then figure it out from there. I think the exploration of programs and discovery of self is beneficial for every student. I expected to change my major at least once while I was at Manchester, but I didn’t. I don’t know what the explanation for this is, but I’m pretty sure it has something to do with the availability of non-academic community space for peace studies majors.

            We are lucky enough to have developed a space in the academic center that is not a classroom, not a computer lab, but a place with resources and familiarity. The Peace Studies Lounge provides us with somewhere to spend time with each other, work on homework, develop our program, do crafts, commiserate about the difficulties of college or take a nap in the middle of the day. There are no expectations or requirements, but at any point throughout the day, anyone can walk in for a cup of coffee and there will always be a friendly face waiting for them.

            I think we need more of this on campus, for other majors and programs. When I think of other students in other programs, I wonder where they hang out between classes. Where do they meet for group projects? Where do people drop off cookies and muffins and spend time together? I think this space allows us to work through our studies, struggles and successes in community, with solidarity and support.

            I would highly encourage folks of other majors to join us in our community space on the second floor of ACEN. I would also encourage students to create their own spaces for their major programs. Getting involved on campus can mean more than just joining student organizations, it can mean furthering the community within your major or connecting with another major. But in the meantime, please come visit the lounge, say hi to our community and have snacks and tea!