Renovations to the Upendo Lounge in Student Academic Services Building North included adding partitions, hardwood floors and a dedicated space for students of color to gather.
For Tre Shockley, Black Student Movement president, the renovations give BSM a permanent place to meet. He said BSM gets first right to booking the space and their organization needs the space for groups within the movement, like UNC Gospel Choir and Harmonyx.
“Black individuals don’t have to feel so pressured to get the space, especially since we’re using it all the time,” Shockley said.
Shockley said the building is now a casual gathering place, a community building and a welcome space. He said he hopes students will feel comfortable hanging out or studying in the lounge.
“It will be a really nice area for students of color to gather down there,” he said.
Shockley said the process of renovating and dedicating the space took longer than expected, but he was always positive that it would happen. He said Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Winston Crisp was a big help to transforming the space.
“He has always been pretty confident that we would get this done,” Shockley said.
Sophomore Mikeala Roberson said she has used the space through her involvement with BSM, the office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs and the Minority Student Recruitment Committee.
She said she remembers when the idea to dedicate the space first came up in discussion during a BSM general body meeting and the doubts expressed by people in the meeting.
“To actually see it come into works is really great,” Roberson said.
Roberson said BSM approached the University administration about the changes, but BSM was hesitant. She said they found the courage to pursue their goals by talking to and supporting each other, by creating a collective agreement.
“I think that is a big part of our black community, specifically here, that we all support and uplift each other,” Roberson said.
Kendall Luton, a junior, said he had used the room during a Men of Color meeting. He said the Upendo Lounge was important for students of color to give them a space to talk about issues affecting their community.
“There aren’t many spaces for people of color. When you come to a campus like this, it is a predominantly white institution,” Luton said.
“Most of the spaces are filled up with only white people — and that is good and all — but it is nice to have a space of our own where we can have our thoughts and things like that, where we can just come together as a community.”