After months of renovations on the former Second Baptist Church that sits on the corner of East South Street and South Cherry Street, the new H.O.P.E. Center is finally open for students and faculty to visit. Director of the Center for Intercultural Life, Tianna Cervantez, shares her excitement to finally move into a new space to replace the CIL.
“We already have students who used the old space book time [at the center] and we’ve got students saying ‘when can we start studying in here,’ and ‘how long is the place going to be open,’” Cervantez said. “So the reception has been great, the only challenges are whatever challenges you have when you move in.”
The H.O.P.E. Center (House of Peace and Equity)was a name created by a small committee that consisted of students heavily involved in spiritual life on campus. They began by coming up with ideas and words that they thought of when they thought of spiritual life at Knox.
“The donor really wanted the people who will be using it to really have a voice in that. They didn’t want the building named after themselves or something like that,” Cervantez said.
Senior and President of Hillel Club, Chava Solberg, was in attendance at the meeting that decided the name for the new center. She felt that with every religion, hope is always there.
“They just asked us for words, we went through some acronyms, just a word that would be influential for all groups,” Solberg said. “With different religions, there are different religious symbols, and different cultures there are different cultural symbols, but I think hope is something pretty prominent in every sort of culture and religion. Everyone really liked that idea as a shared united front.”
While the donors are anonymous, Cervantez hopes they will get involved for an upcoming open house that the center plans to have. Cervantez is excited to share the space and wants to have a campus-wide open house before the year ends, but plans to host a formal open house with the community next fall. For now, to open the space to the community, the center was used for Charles Gomez’s memorial for the campus on April 26.
“It really was the intention of a space like this to allow students and campus community to have places to come when they needed to congregate in the kind of way, to come together as a community to reflect, to share,” Cervantez said.
As of this week, the H.O.P.E. Center is open from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. The center is complete with three stories. The bottom floors act as the Center for Intercultural Learning did, providing food for those who need it and a new television that Cervantez hopes to open up to students with sports games and other shows that might be of interest.
“I’m just really excited about how much space is here and I hope that students find it and use it as a place they can just be,” Cervantez said, “We are hoping it’s used of as kind of a relaxed spot for students to take a break.”
When a student or group wanted to reserve the CIL, it was difficult to find a time since the space was small and only had one central meeting location, the dining/living room. This created complications for the staff meetings that the faculty were trying to host and also for offering a welcome environment for students to relax. Solberg is excited to have a real space for the Hillel club to meet, after never being able to use the previous space because of reservation complications.
“I’m really excited that there is a space, a lot of our Hillel events have been hosted at my house because we like to have a nice environment that’s not a classroom. Just has a little bit more of a home feel, and I think now this is a space that it doesn’t have to be hosted in someone’s home, and it’s still not within a classroom environment,” Solberg said. “So you have a little bit more of a spiritual space that’s not a classroom, but it’s on campus.”