The Honors College revealed its new outdoor lounge last Saturday, called the Honors Oasis. The area is meant to be a study and relaxation area that encourages students to get fresh air and sunlight.
The idea for the Oasis first came about during the COVID-19 pandemic, where Honors College staff saw the need for an outdoor space.
“Students wanted an actual outdoor event space. We sort of had different makeshift ones that we did for different events here,” said Rebecca Oliver, director of the Honors College. “People were just kind of hanging out on the grass.”
Additionally, students provided insight into the area’s creation via open forums.
“Last year, we had some open forums for students where they could talk about things they’d like to see in the Honors Living Learning Community space,” Oliver said. “This was one of the ideas that really came out of that.”
Due to the pandemic, honors students were not able to go on Honors-sponsored trips such as Brainy Break, study abroad opportunities and conferences. This left extra money in the Honors College budget, which allowed for the funding of the Oasis.
“It’s something that the students actually paid for. We used part of the Honors College fee money that we had and we also got some funds from the student infrastructure funds from the university to help pay for a little bit of it,” Oliver said.
The space contains 65 pieces of furniture, as well as festival lights and on-site electrical outlets. When the weather cools down, trees will be added throughout the area.
Originally, the space was to be completed by the start of the fall semester. However, due to delays in construction and supply chain issues, completion was pushed back to the end of September.
Honors College staff decided to unveil the Oasis on Homecoming game day. Oliver described it as “a great opportunity to show off the space.”
Honors students were excited about the new space as well.
“I enjoy playing volleyball with people. Just having that nearby and being able to come over here and relax, it’s a nice little social area,” said Andrew Orr, a first-year civil engineering major from Roland, Arkansas.
“I’m really excited about it. Hopefully it’ll encourage more honors students to spend more time outside,” said Claire Greene, a senior biology major from Conway. “I know we’re all nerds. We hang out inside for the most part. So hopefully we can get more sunlight.”
One student in particular was excited for the space’s winter opportunities.
“I cannot wait until it is winter and it snows because then this place is going to be a very interesting obstacle course,” said Benjamin Whitfield, a senior electrical engineering major from Little Rock. “You’ve got the gravel. What’s going to happen when it’s covered in ice– it’s a skating rink, automatically. Then you’ve got the chairs. You can set that up before it snows and then you have a snowy obstacle course.”
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