Towards the end of May, before the summer semester began, students received an email about reminders and notices for the upcoming summer semester. Among these reminders was a note about the new location of the Whisper Room in Room 157.
Many students expressed their dissatisfaction with the new Whisper Room and the short and sudden notice of the change. For the last two years, it was located in Room 184, adjacent to the sculpture studio, which made it very convenient for students taking sculpting classes. It was only a few steps away from the studio, near the main entrance on campus, and an extra space for students to sculpt and store their work.
Students also had a spacious room to be productive during their stay on campus. While the computer options were limited, many chose to work in the Whisper Room silently.
In the past, the Whisper Room was used daily. One of these students, Alex Wilson (DAA), says that he “used to show up at five in the morning and work until midnight”. Wilson expressed that the windows, open space, and art motivated him to be productive. “The cool thing about that room was that it was a one-stop shop if you wanted to find someone motivated who could help you with a project.” Wilson says, “it was inspired by student creativity.”
When he found out about the new Whisper Room, Wilson was disheartened. “I tried to adapt to it, but it just feels so dead." Wilson, like many frustrated students, refers to the new Whisper Room as the “broom closet”. “I used to [work in the] Whisper Room a lot, but now it’s too small and feels too cramped and suffocating”, says Ayla Muratoglu (DAA). “With the new layout, I am quite frustrated, since it seems the majority of the space is allocated towards faculty rather than giving the students a reasonable amount of resources.”
While the new room is much smaller, one wall is also painted a bright, distracting, Chroma green. The distance between the Whisper Room and the sculpture studio has made sculpting in the room inconvenient for many.
The Whisper Room’s sudden relocation has sparked a question: is Cogswell’s current campus too small for a growing community?
While a majority of students have started their Cogswell journey at the new San Jose campus, many are veterans of the Sunnyvale campus. When asked about the previous campus, they had expressed how much they miss the “old Cogswell” and its facilities. “The Sunnyvale campus was comfortable,” says Campbell Winslow (DAA), “the new campus does feel a lot cleaner and more professional, but [it] isn’t quite as welcoming.”
For student Sunny Sundberg (DAA), the Sunnyvale campus was a big part of what sold Cogswell to her. The “colorful, vibrant” campus was very “homey” but didn’t have too many windows. One difference between the two campuses, for example, is that the Dragon’s Den and Student Lounge were two different facilities in the Sunnyvale campus. “I don't like that when there's an event everyone gets booted and then there isn't really a common area where you don't have to be quiet,” she says. The library was also a separate room in the old campus, but now, she feels like the new library is “a corridor for people to walk through.”
“The new campus still has a somewhat sterile feel that makes me uncomfortable,” Sundberg tells the Chronicle. When asked what they thought about the San Jose campus, the general opinion is that it feels “cramped.” Some students say that this is especially true during the fall. “As of now the Monkey lab is not an issue with its new setup,” says Muratoglu, “but I know it will be entirely frustrating during the school year since we have less access to computers.” A great amount of students require resources that are typically unaccessible at home such as space, equipment, computers, and software.
Like Muratoglu, many students struggle to work on projects as most computers are located in rooms where classes are usually in session during the day. This has resulted in many waiting until late night to do homework, when the campus opened its doors 24/7 during this year’s spring and summer semesters. This fall, it was announced that Cogswell would return to its previous campus hours: 6AM to 1AM Mondays through Fridays, and 9AM to 9PM on weekends, save for midterms and finals, when the campus will be open 24/7.
Olivia Olortegui (DAA), an out-of-state student, says that this reversion has made working on projects even harder, especially for a busy semester like the fall. “I can’t work on things when there are classes and I have to wait until the night to find a computer. Even then I can’t work for very long because of the new time. I also used to go to the Whisper Room to work, but the new room is uninviting.”
Like Olortegui, many students are frustrated about the lack of time to use the already limited resources on campus.
Arthur Brandao (GDE) feels that the size of the campus is “decent”, but a looming problem may pose a threat. “I feel like [the campus] could be larger and that the footprint has grown each semester,” he tells us, “it is disappointing to have tuition costs raised and then lose out on The Whisper Room.”
Cogswell increased tuition by 2% for the 2018-2019 academic year. This is a price hike of $17, from $777 to $794. Despite the increase, many feel like there is not much being implemented when it comes to providing necessary resources to Cogswell’s seemingly growing population. It is difficult, for example, to find parking during peak hours on campus, with some students having to park at the nearby Palmer Chiropractic College parking lot. Students are allowed to park at Palmer in a designated location on their lot, towards the back. A few parking spaces have been labeled for non-student use in front of Cogswell’s campus, contributing to the lack of spaces.
Many would agree that Cogswell simply does not have the capacity to provide students with more areas to work and study. Aside from the Whisper Room and Library, many students work in the Silver Monkey Lab. This lab introduced a new area in the back of the room that holds a conference table and is blocked off by movable walls. Students tell the Chronicle that the Silver Monkey Lab is “uninviting” and “uninspired”, with some even referring to it as “The Swamp”.
While many believe that the college is doing its best with the size and capacity they have, many also believe that unlike the Sunnyvale campus, the San Jose campus feels “uninviting” and “too transparent.” The heavy amount of campus tours contribute to this, according to Winslow: “I feel like there is some space for the students, but I feel like it's in the open. It feels like I'm in a zoo sometimes with all the tours.”
Since Cogswell moved to San Jose, lots of students were attracted to the well-lit and “motivational” Whisper Room which was located in front of the school. The communal space was spacious and accommodating for many students who had to work on projects.
Not everyone, however, was a fan of the old Whisper Room. Many students expressed that while it looked spacious and accommodating, the room often became loud, making the name of the facility ironic. While students found it convenient for sculpting, not everyone was responsible when it came to cleaning the room, and it usually smelled of clay, which also made the floors sticky.
Despite these flaws, the old Whisper Room had its charm. Like the former Sunnyvale campus, many students remember nostalgic times and good memories they spent in there. Josh Bakerkelley (DAA), who worked in the room daily, recalled it being the place where an independent short film came about. “Roger and the Doritos”, a mock commercial for Animation Career Review that came first place in the competition, was founded in the Whisper Room area.
Today, the old Whisper Room is a faculty office, whose office used to be in the adjacent room 185. This is now the office of Cogswell’s new Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Charles Restivo. Many students have decided to work in different areas at Cogswell, including the ASB Office. Vanessa Hernandez (DAA) says that ever since the move, she has begun working in ASB everyday because of the environment. “It’s very comfortable being in here,” she tells us, “but I miss what the old Whisper Room stood for.”
ASB’s new Executive Board has begun remodeling the office to accommodate this change. “We want a space where people can work and make connections,” says Angel Ramirez (GDE), who helped restructure the room, “the Whisper Room was a space where people networked. We need somewhere like that now.”
The new Whisper Room located in room 157 can usually be found empty. “I know that if this new Whisper Room is here to stay, it needs some love, like a white board or a change in color of that painful green screen paint on the wall at the end of the room,” says Bakerkelley, “a lot of love needs to go into the studying and student community environments [at Cogswell] in general to promote student success.”