KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University’s more than 300 registered student organizations (RSOs) and student media groups will have a new home in the WMU Student Center beginning Monday, Aug. 14. Located on the second floor across from the Admissions Center, the dynamic Student Organization Center (SOC) is an 8,500 square foot space three times larger than the previous SOC. This unique, thoughtfully designed, student-focused center is intended to serve as the hub for student engagement, activities, programming and planning.
The open and inviting semi-formal space was designed with the input of students who will utilize it for the management of their fraternities, sororities, clubs, academic organizations, faith-based organizations and more. Surrounded by glass walls, the SOC features a combination of comfortable open concept seating, collaborative desk spaces and private rooms, all with the opportunity for personalization. It also houses three conference rooms, 19 fully enclosed offices and lounge space for students to hang out and socialize in between meetings or classes.
“The SOC is intentionally designed from the ground up with the students in mind,” notes Chris Sligh, director of the Office of Student Engagement. “Students really wanted open spaces, privacy and the opportunity to personalize their designated areas, and the new space allows them to do that. I like that it’s in a highly visible area, and I think it will give students the visibility and recognition that they’ve been seeking.”
The student media center, home to the Western Herald and student-run radio station WIDR, will be housed adjacent to the SOC office spaces. Podcasting and video production rooms are available to any RSOs looking to break into the digital news space as well.
As a shared space for all RSOs, the collaborative environment will open up opportunities for students to meet one another and network, fostering the foundation of community and inclusion the new student center is built upon.
“We’re really excited from a diversity, equity and inclusion lens because we can intentionally place organizations (near each other) to get to know one another," Sligh says. "We get that natural opening for students to meet and network with each other. It succeeds in bringing everyone together in one spot.”
Space in the new SOC is reserved by RSOs via an annual application process. Fully enclosed offices for the 2023-24 school year have already been booked with limited space available for touchdown desks. Students and RSOs can take a tour of the SOC during the grand opening event on Tuesday, August 29 from 2:30 to 6 p.m.
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