AARON SKUBBY, Editor-in-Chief—When Whisler Hall first opened as the student health center in 1929, scotch tape had not yet been invented. Now, almost a century later, student health and wellness will be gaining a new home on campus.
The wellness center, which is planned to be up and running in the fall of 2022, will be located in the grass clearing across from the Gilpatrick House, between the Swasey Observatory and Huffman Hall.
One side of the wellness center will be the “clinical side” and the other will be the “health promotion or wellness side,” according to Associate Vice President for Student Development Julie Tucker.
The clinical side will offer conventional health and counseling services, including a new group therapy space. The wellness side will feature specialized rooms such as a spin and movement studio, a quiet room, an alternative therapy room, and a multipurpose space that various wellness-oriented groups can use.
Outdoor space is also an important feature of the center, with planned amenities such as a mindfulness garden, awnings, an indoor/outdoor fireplace, and a water feature.
“One of the things we’ve learned in COVID is how much being outdoors can improve our social life and also our wellness, and just our overall mental and emotional health. To be able to be outside together or alone in the beautiful outdoor space I think is going to be really significant for students,” Tucker said.
The center was originally planned to be constructed on the hill outside of the P1 parking garage beneath Slayter. Over 10 different sites were being considered, but the space on Chapel Walk was favored by those involved in the planning process.
Tucker expressed why the site seemed like a good option: “it does feel more integrated into the heart of campus. We’re really excited about how accessible this new site will be for students, that it gives them a physical reminder of wellness,” she said.
RED Corps was engaged throughout the 2018-2019 school year to help determine what students wanted in a new wellness center. RED stands for Research, Engagement, and Design, and RED Corps is a collaboration between Student Development and the Red Frame Lab.
RED Corps works to engage students through strategies such as focus groups, lunch line conversations, and a host of other methods to gauge interest and get feedback.
It has not yet been decided what will happen to Whisler Hall after the new wellness center is constructed. Various departments and groups across campus are engaged in conversations about space, and it is yet to be seen who will inhabit the building.
Renderings of the Wellness Center will be available within the next several weeks. The Denisonian will make them available as soon as possible.