New student lounge focuses on needs of veterans, military personnel

After scrapping the outdated furniture and carpet that previously adorned the Lindquist Hall lounge, the Office for Faculty Development and Student Success is in what Sarah Sell called a “frenzy of activity” preparing for the grand opening of a new lounge for military and veteran students at Wichita State.

“It was formerly an open lounge space with ugly old furniture,” said Sell, a student success specialist at the OFDSS. “It really didn’t have a super high traffic level, so we’re hoping this will be a better use of the space.”

The new lounge will have three computer stations, a printer, and student staff on hand to answer questions and provide support as needed.

“This will be kind of a lounge space, a work space, a home on campus for our military and veteran students,” Sell said. “It’s there to serve a dual purpose – academic and social, personal success.”

The idea to open a center for students with current or past military experience as well as dependents came from the students themselves, Sell said.

“The Student Veterans Organization did a lot of work to help get the word out, to listen to students and hear what they had to say,” Sell said. “A lot of campuses have some sort of veterans’ center there to serve the students.”

The Student Veterans Organization and OFDSS began to work on creating the center last academic year.

“They’ll have a space to call their home, to have support,” Sell said. “A lot of our students that are veterans are older than other students and may have a hard time connecting. This will give them a place to be surrounded by people that will understand where they’re coming from and have similar life experiences.”

Sell, who has been a member of the Air National Guard for 12 years, said she knows what it’s like to balance the demands of college and military service, and to come back to school after deployment. She said she hopes this center will help provide support to members of campus in a similar position.

“My entire goal as a First Sargent is to make sure my troops’ morale is up, that they have everything they need,” Sell said. “This really fits in line with what I do in the military.”

The center will be located in Lindquist Hall 107 and will be open until 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and until 5 p.m. on Friday. It will open Nov. 11 with a grand opening event slated for 2 p.m.