Making a Place for Third Spaces

Thursday, January 25

By Bailey Gerber, senior at Grace College studying communications

One of the most exciting aspects of college life is the opportunity to explore and claim new territory. As freshmen, we personalize our dorm rooms and create a home out of that space. Then we head off to class, where we spend the rest of our time outside the “home.”

Grace College wants to open the door to create “third spaces,” where students can come together in fellowship and collaboration. The goal is to enhance the Grace community by providing space where students can interact outside the pressure of a classroom or the limitations of a dorm room.

In pursuit of this reality, Grace understands that the best people to ask about areas of improvement are the students themselves. Rather than moving forward with assumptions of what students think and feel, Grace is asking for students’ opinions on what third spaces might look like.

Through a series of student town hall meetings, we collected preliminary ideas and suggestions. By mid-September, these ideas will be incorporated into interactive models for smaller groups of students to view and critique. At the conclusion of those meetings, we should have final third space ideas to move forward into building/remodeling plans.

I’m thankful that the impending changes to campus do not rest solely in the hands of administrators, but also with students who have the most stake in improving Grace. The town hall process empowers those of us who call Grace College home to invest in enhancing our campus for the future.

Third spaces can be hard to come by; dorm rooms and classrooms take up a lot of students’ time and space. But at Grace, we want to change that. We believe that God called us into fellowship with each other, and we want to open doors for that fellowship to happen.

We envision third spaces as points of collaboration across campus, where students will interact with others who might live in different dorms and have different majors. At the end of their time at Grace College, students should be able to say they developed a variety of friendships – not just with people who are like them, but also with people who are different from them. By making a place for third spaces, Grace may turn this vision into reality.