Nestled comfortably in a secluded area of the University Religious Center lies a dimmed-room. When students enter, they aren’t greeted by the loud chatter of students or overcrowded desks and chairs. Instead, the space is dedicated to something that most students don’t get enough of: sleep.
Last week, USG announced that they would be creating the new napping space. The space is the newest development from RestSC, a student-led initiative in USG’s Senate that seeks to “uplift the wellness of all students on campus and provide an additional space for commuter students to feel at home.”
USG Senators Sanjana Sambhwani, Sam Habibi and MENASA Advocacy Liaison Eduard Ghazaryan led the program in collaboration with the University Religious Center.
“We’re trying to give a home to students on campus,” Sambhwani said.
Especially for commuter students who spend long days in traffic and on campus for classes and meetings, Sambhwani emphasized the importance of creating an accessible space to meet basic needs, including couches, a lounge space to work and even a working kitchen next door.
“We try to give commuters and all students a place where they can come to rest and relax and get horizontal for a couple minutes or hours,” Ghazaryan said.
The napping area is the newest addition to the space. When students enter, they are welcomed by the calming sounds of crashing waves and inviting black leather couches that take up much of the space. But perhaps the most anticipated feature is a series of brand-new Moon Pods.
Moon Pods are “zero-gravity bean bag chairs” that are meant to help individuals unwind. Only taking up four feet of space, the Moon Pods are easy to move around and their shapes are adjustable to cater to whether someone wants to sit, recline or rest.
John Fiorentino, the founder of Moon Pod, designed the product to mimic floatation therapy, a technique that has been proven to reduce stress-levels and anxiety.
“We really want this to combat the academic pressure and this busy life that we’re all living,” Sambhwani said.
Implementing the napping space was a long process, but one that was worthwhile, according to Sambhwani.
“We definitely had a lot of administrative barriers,” she said. “I think space is generally very hard to access on this campus in terms of how you go about taking a room on campus and converting it into something completely different. So we had to pitch this narrative and really plugged the need for this space to recharge and decompress.”
But the team’s efforts all came to a head on Tuesday, with the RestSC soft launch, an open-house style gathering where students were invited to come check out the space.
R Rajkumar, a masters student studying electrical engineering, spent time lounging on one of the Moon Pods and said he appreciated the space.
“[Doesn’t compare] to a full size bed, but it’s much better than sofas and pillows,” Rajkumar said. “So I think it’s the most logical decision that [RestSC] could’ve come up with.”
Victoria Valenzuela, a master’s student who received her English undergraduate degree at USC, said she wishes the university had implemented this sooner. As a commuter student, Valenzuela lived 30 to 40 minutes away from campus. Unable to drive, she is forced to stay on campus, lunging around a heavy backpack with all of her materials.
“It can get really exhausting. I get really tired and then I don’t have anywhere to rest,” Valenzuela said. “Whereas my classmates who live on campus or who live about 10 minutes away in apartments, are able to just walk there and take a nap to rest [or] have a hot meal in between classes.”
Having not yet visited the space, Valenzuela described what she hopes for in the new napping space.
“I just hope it’s something that gives us enough space and a little privacy. I feel like that’s something I kind of struggled with on campus,” Valenzuela said. “I’d be around people all day in a crowded study hall or library, always around people. Ideally, it would be nice if this just gave you space to yourself so you can try to decompress.”
The room does not yet provide the level of privacy that students like Valenzuela might hope for. Instead, the Moon Pods are scattered across the floor in an open space.
But it won’t look like this for long, according to Ghazaryan, who says that they will be expanding on the project during the fall semester.
“We’re in the process of renovating the space,” he said. “We’re going to have wall paintings and rugs. The pods are going to have pillows to make it more comfortable. So we wanted to get this going, but we’re still going to be involved with this project. We’re still looking to expand on this and scale it, so I’m optimistic for the future.”
Sambhwani and Ghazaryan plan to develop more napping locations across campus in order to increase accessibility.
“We’re in contact with the Library for International Public Affairs, which is under CPA, and we’re still in contact with Leavey Library,” Sambhwani said. “So we’re hoping that we end up creating all of these rest zones on campus.”
This space, which may be the first of many, is located in URC104, and is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. With study days and finals quickly approaching, students might find a nap here to be just what they need to unwind, decompress and get some shut-eye.