Dirlam Lounge may get facelift over winter break

by Sam Dearden and Erin Gerken

Improvements to the Chapel coffee shop in Dirlam Lounge are currently being debated by Student Government Association (SGA).

These improvements would include more smaller tables, taking out the TV, new paint, non-fluorescent lighting and installing a coffee bar.

“We’re looking to make the place more of a coffee shop,” Chaplain Fritz Wehrenberg said. “You go to places in Des Moines like Starbucks and Caribou Coffee and that’s not the feel you get here. Those places are what we’re shooting for.”

It is not yet clear whether the renovations to Dirlam Lounge will take place.

“At this point there’s nothing set in stone. We’re still very early in the process,” Assistant Dean of Students Rich Ramos said. “There are still a lot of people who need to be brought to the table to improve that space.”

Some of these people include members of the administration.

“We must discuss a few issues with certain administration before we can go ahead with the project,” senior and Student Body President Joe Sorenson said. “We are, however, hopeful the project will be done over Christmas Break if we go ahead with it.”

Dirlam Lounge Committee in SGA and Religious Life Community (RLC) have collaborated on supplying the funding for the upgrades that will take place.

“This project is a collaboration of both RLC and SGA students,” Sorenson said. “It will be totally student designed and student funded.”

“The money (to remodel Dirlam Lounge) will come from both SGA and the chapel fund,” junior and Holy Grounds student manager Meredith McCay said. “The chapel fund consists mostly of fees received from people who have weddings here.”

The money that is coming from SGA will not increase the current expense to students, or negatively impact the funds available to student groups on campus who receive money from SGA.

“The money that SGA will use is part of a carry-over fund,” Ramos said. “It is money from previous years that was not used by student-run organizations.”

One of the worries, however, is that there will be a Starbucks café in the new campus center. The hope for this new coffee shop is that it will enhance the options available for students.

“The hope is that (Dirlam Lounge) will be complimentary to the campus center,” Wehrenberg said. “It will be busy and a central hub for students at all times. We want this to be a place where students can come to hang out and unwind.”

The absence of a communal place for students to meet has currently forced many groups to hold meetings in either the library or Dirlam Lounge, driving up both traffic and volume in these places.

“I think it’s because this year without a campus center, having regular meetings in that space, we talked about ways to make that environment (Dirlam Lounge) more comfortable and inviting,” Ramos said. “One of the things that has been talked about is giving it more of a feel or vibe that you can totally relax in.”

Sorenson wants an improved Dirlam Lounge to be a better place for students, faculty and staff to meet.

“I am not really an interior designer so I can’t really speak much to what the place will look like, but we want to give students a great place to study and meet with other students, faculty and staff,” Sorenson said. “Our intentions of the renovation is to provide the campus with an enhanced location for meetings, studying, small performances, programming and just enjoying the company of others at Simpson.”