OMA and IBL open Student Success Lounge

The room, located on the third floor of the Marshall Student Center, gives students the opportunity to socialize, relax and work in a stress-free environment. ORACLE PHOTO/ALEXANDRA URBAN

The Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) and Institute of Black Life (IBL) Student Success Lounge, a new space dedicated for students to study and relax, held its grand opening Nov. 1, giving students the opportunity to socialize and work in a “stress-free” environment.

The space has a capacity of 45, and students can freely choose how to utilize it, whether it be doing homework, eating, napping or even dancing, according to Nicole Luckett, assistant director of OMA. It is located on the third floor of the Marshall Student Center, the space formerly dedicated to Education Abroad, and is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The opening of this space was one of 10 demands listed by the Black Student Union (BSU) in summer 2020 to address the needs of the Black community across campuses.

Kameryn Philpot, president of the BSU, said seeing one of the demands come to fruition has been an exciting accomplishment that will hopefully open the door for more progress made at the university.

“It’s definitely an achievement that we’re proud of. The previous president that was here was really instrumental in getting it pushed, even when I became president. They were still actively helping,” she said. “It’s a great accomplishment and we’re really happy, even though there is so much more still to be done.”

The space will also occasionally hold specific community events, with the next one taking place Nov. 15. The Black Student Leaders Open Forum, hosted by OMA and the Black Faculty and Staff Association, will feature speakers to moderate an open discussion between students and faculty leaders, as well as discussing a mentorship program being offered to students by the Black Faculty and Staff Association. 

“We’ll hear from students about some of the programming that they would like to see in that space and also having those different dialogues and maybe challenging or difficult conversations around the Black diaspora so that we’re all learning about each other and learning something different from another culture,” Luckett said. 

The event will last from 6-7 p.m., and while not required, reserving a spot through BullsConnect is recommended so social distancing plans can be coordinated.

The space itself, modeled to give an inviting atmosphere to students, has chairs and couches, a bookshelf and a rotating wall of paintings from Black artists, according to Director of OMA Neudy Nuñez. Every three months, the works will be swapped out by new ones to feature other Black artists in the community. 

The current paintings being displayed include art from USF masters of fine arts student Marlin Tobias and professor in the Department of English Gary Lemons. 

With a variety of paintings, furniture and books available for students to read, student Alphy Maria Antony said the space provides a comforting and welcoming atmosphere for students, and she finds it hard to leave the space at the end of the day.

“It’s so homey and cozy that I don’t think anyone wants to leave,” she said. “With a desk and everything in the front, it just looks like home, like how your home would be arranged. It’s really nice.”

Nuñez said the construction of the space is a huge achievement for OMA as it continues to create a more inclusive space for the USF community.

“The grand opening of the OMA IBL Student Success Lounge is a proud milestone for the Office of Multicultural Affairs because it reflects a wide collaboration to meet the needs and expectations of the students served at USF,” she said. 

“Most importantly, this grand opening is reflective of the power of our students’ voices and their desire to be affirmed in their identity, their experience at USF and their desire to feel connected and valued by the university community.”