Lots of space, nowhere to sit: Fundraiser aims to improve Wescoe hallway

The new buildings on the University of Kansas campus these days are all about built-in gathering and study spaces. I think the buzz-phrase for these is “touchdown stations,” and they’re everywhere — think nooks or common areas with tables and chairs, charging stations, maybe even a nearby coffee bar like the one in the atrium at KU’s new Capitol Federal Hall, home to the business school.

Meanwhile, Wescoe Hall, dedicated in 1974, maintains some of the most spacious, most dreary and most useless hallways of any building on campus.

With a front desk, offices, conference rooms and three departmental libraries housed on the second floor of Wescoe, KU’s School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures has a little fundraiser going in hopes of creating a more welcoming spot for students in its empty hallway space.

The Wescoe Hallway Remodel project has a campaign at www.launchku.org/wescoe and aims to raise $15,000. The deadline to make donations is midnight Monday.

The school contains five core departments housed in Wescoe, and 13 affiliated departments, according to a promotional video for the project. They want money for chairs, couches, coffee tables, a bar-height table with chairs, charging stations and artwork.

The video shows a guy hunched over doing homework on top of some recycling bins and a few young women with laptops and backpacks sitting on the cold tile floor. They may be staged for this video, but it is a typical scenario.

The project is envisioned to create a space for students to relax, study or interact as they wait for class or to speak with instructors, according to the video — and maybe practice speaking whatever language they’re trying to learn.

“Language learning is an inherently social activity and just doesn’t happen in the classroom or in the text book,” KU senior Tessa Newberry says in the video. “The space we envision has the opportunity to provide students with a chance to gather and to become a catalyst for practicing and enhancing language skills.”

The Wescoe Hallway Remodel project is one of a handful of currently active KU Endowment crowdsourcing fundraisers. See them all at www.launchku.org.

• I’m the Journal-World’s KU and higher ed reporter. See all the newspaper’s KU coverage here. Reach me by email at sshepherd@ljworld.com, by phone at 832-7187, on Twitter @saramarieshep or via Facebook at Facebook.com/SaraShepherdNews.