Quiet Room under construction

Dalhousie students band together to create stress-free zone

A floor plan for the Quiet Room drawn by Becky Richter shows a space for naps and stretching. Photo: Lauren Hughes

The stress level is about to drop on the Dalhousie University campus. At least that’s what the student union is hoping.

Next week, they’re launching the Quiet Room, a space with yoga mats, cushions, and a futon where students can go to relax during their breaks.

“A number of students wanted yoga space, prayer space, and stretching space,” says Becky Richter, the director of the Sandbox (formally the Leadership Department) and the leader on the project. “And a number of students wanted nap space and a space without any computers.”

The idea for the room developed from comments posted by students on the online Dalhousie forum, the SoapBox HQ. Many wanted a space where they could get away from the constant noise and the fluorescent lights of the classroom.

One student posted on the forum, saying they wanted “a space where you can take a time out and just chill in peace for a moment when life gets too busy and overwhelming.”

Another commented that the room would be “especially great for students who live off campus, but need some rest during their one to two hours between classes.”

The response to the project has been very positive amongst students, Richter says, and many have volunteered to help put the room together.

“I think students spend a lot of time on campus and I know when I’m here in school mode, I find it difficult to remove myself from the noise, and the hustle and bustle,” she says.

Music student Thomas Hoy supports the project, saying, “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished for a space like that. I’ll be falling over levels of exhausted at school, but I don’t have enough time to go home and rest before my next class.”

But not everyone will be comfortable enough to fall asleep in a public place. Fourth-year science student Amit Ross says she’d rather go home than “take a nap in front of strangers.”

Creating the room

The Dalhousie Student Union has been spending some of its $3,000 budget on furniture, but hasn’t painted the bland walls yet in hopes that the Quiet Room will upgrade into a larger space if the pilot is successful.

The relaxation space is currently moving into a former meeting room on the third floor of the Student Union Building on campus, and will open Nov. 14, 2012.

“The Quiet Room for students to use for quiet relaxation or meditation sounds like a great initiative,” writes Victor Day, the director of counseling and psychological services at Dalhousie.

Day says the most common reason students seek help is because of anxiety and stress. Counseling services at the university also offer sleep and relaxation workshops. 

The project collaborates with students, something that will hopefully help the space survive after Richter graduates. 

“Having this space where you know you can go and stretch or nap and do more relaxing things will definitely bring the level of stress down,” Richter says. “Students will be a lot better off in terms of their happiness or well-being.”