Under normal circumstances, the Tinkham Veale University Center sees about 5,000 visitors each day. It’s a bustling lunch spot, a venue for large in-person events, and a place for passersby to stop for a moment to chat.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, however, the building now averages 5,000 visitors per week—evidence of the reduced population on campus and the need to enforce health and safety protocols.
The building remained open as a resource for essential employees even as many operations went remote, and now, thanks to a collaborative effort among offices on campus, it has transitioned to serve students taking courses on campus. It now hosts about 20 classes a week—a first for the center, which opened in 2014. The ballroom is large enough to allow larger classes to meet in person while satisfying the necessary social distancing guidelines. To allow for the transition, the building was outfitted with enhanced audio/visual equipment and desks.
Students also are able to stop by the center to access Zoom Rooms, spaces the university has made available for those taking online classes.
Furniture in the building has been modified to encourage social distancing, sanitization stations have been added and cleaning frequency has been increased.
And while the typical interactions seen at the Tinkham Veale University may look different, Jason Hawk, the center’s director, noted that there are hints of those familiar sights.
“Although these changes are obvious, the university center still remains a hub for personal connection. While students may be required to stay 6 feet apart and wear masks, it’s very evident that the need for human interaction is still true,” said Hawk, who is also director of sales for campus services. “For first-year students, the university center was likely one of the first buildings they visited on campus and now is one of the few buildings where they can still meet new friends for lunch or interact with others outside of Zoom.”
The Tinkham Veale University Center remains open to all members of the Case Western Reserve community 24 hours a day, seven days a week with a CWRU ID. Hawk said many students who visit the center come for the same reasons they did in the past: to study and to eat.
For those looking to grab a bite to eat, Cool Beanz is open weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 8Twenty6 and Pinzas are both open weekdays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Individuals are encouraged to order ahead with GrubHub.
Students looking for a place to study can use one of the center’s spaces and reserve small rooms through the Spartan Reservation System and the “Same-day Reservations” form from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
And while there are restrictions, events are still feasible at the Tinkham Veale University Center with proper approval. Individuals looking to host in-person events can work with Tinkham Veale University Center staff to develop an operations plan and review layout options.