Inside Geneva College’s Student Center — beneath Skye Lounge, the Brig and the Student Programs and Leadership Offices — rests a beautiful room that exudes feelings of relaxation and fun. The red, sand and dusky blue walls, balloon lamps and comfortable seating of The Underground encourage an atmosphere that is peaceful, but potentially exciting.
Before its recent renovation, this room looked more like an unused storage space than a gathering place for students. After housing a variety of events — most recently Student Senate meetings — it was time for the room to find a permanent purpose. “We knew it needed to be done and done right,” says Jeff Kirksey, director of student programs and leadership. “We wanted to get some student life into the lower levels of the Student Center.”
The project began several years ago when two members of the Geneva College Student Union decided to take the first step. Daniel Williams and Matthew Dodd, graduates of 2007, submitted a letter proposing the renovation to the Student Programs office. “Those two really got the issue out on the table,” says Kirksey. “After they graduated, Josh Lee took over and championed the project the next year. Finally, this summer, Thomas Pyle worked incredibly hard to finish it.”
“It was really the GCSU's venture,” Kirksey says. “I helped with details, and Ryan Holt, assistant director of student leadership, spent much of his summer painting The Underground with Thomas, but the GCSU started it and worked hard for this result.”
The room now is now a recreational, relaxing space for students to relax and socialize. “After six or seven years, the idea of a student ‘living room’ is now a reality, and we couldn't be more excited,” Kirksey says with a smile.
Along with community-building and giving students a unique place to call their own, The Underground will provide opportunities for campus artists to display their work and photography. Rotating different artwork each month, the room allows all students to be involved in the arts by letting them see and appreciate their friends’ pieces. Also, a small patio will be constructed on the north side of the room, giving visitors a comfortable space to study or socialize and enjoy the outdoors.
Contributions from several groups and organizations helped the GCSU create The Underground. Thomas Pyle approached the Geneva Alumni Council with a request for a glass garage door. Evoking the feel of a small city shop, the door would allow much-needed sunlight into the basement. The Council responded eagerly and generously, allowing Thomas’ idea to become reality. The Geneva Women are graciously funding the renovation of the outdoor patio.
“We are extremely grateful to everyone who worked or donated on this project, and we are excitedly looking forward to the community The Underground will help to build,” Kirksey says.
- Bonnie Smith '11