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Rams Renew Space: Library launches new health and wellness room

By Dallas Gagnon


A multi-purpose room providing a private space for mental health support, reflection, and relaxation is now offered to the campus community in room 08 of the Upper Mezzanine (UM) in Henry Whittemore Library.


The room is officially named the “Rams Renew Space” and opened Nov. 17.


It is furnished with a massage chair, yoga mat, fidget toys, coloring books, therapy lamp, bluetooth speakers, blankets, and other health and wellness materials.


Framingham State alumna Joan Murtaugh donated $2,770 to repurpose the room – supporting the entire cost of the project.


The room is also handicap accessible.


Interim Library Dean Millie González said, “I’m interested in creating a library space that sort of breaks stereotypes and really addresses our patrons’ needs. ... I’ve been following the wellness space for a while, so immediately, when I found out the space was going to be open, it was like a Hail Mary.”


She added, “The room is to support mental and spiritual wellness for our campus community. We tried to put in a number of different things to suit many different needs. That’s the primary goal.”


González credited Kathleen Burt for doing “all the heavy lifting” and “turning an idea into reality.” She also recognized Vice President of Development and Alumni Relations Eric Gustafson for securing the donation.


One person is allowed in the Rams Renew Space at a time and must book a reservation at

https://framingham.libcal.com/reserve/WhittemoreLibrary/RamsRenew.


Reservation times are in increments of 15 minutes. The room may be reserved anywhere between 15 to 45 minutes.


“Certainly, if someone wanted to put some time aside to pray, we didn’t want to limit that to 15

minutes,” said González.


The room is set up in stations.


Provided is a massage chair, as well as a chair for meditation or relaxation, and a table for writing or puzzles.


There is also open space in the center of the room where “you can put down the yoga mat and even do some stretches, or you can sit and meditate on the cushion,” said González.


Murtaugh, class of ’61, said, “I wanted to make a donation to the school that the students would benefit from.”


González said she initially applied for an internal mini-grant, but her request was not approved.


Murtaugh is on the FSU Foundation and asked Gustafson, “If there was something that didn’t quite make the cut.” She said, “Eric mentioned meditation and that is something I’m interested in.”


González said, “She is definitely someone committed to the student” – highlighting how Murtaugh also funded the library’s iPad program.


She added, “A lot of the things we do in the library don’t take that much money but they have a high impact.”


Burt said she and González surveyed staff members to determine what items should be added to the room. Once a list was created, Burt ordered the materials and started decorating. She also chose the room’s “soft” color.


González said those involved wanted the space to be “soothing” and “like a warm hug.”


Pamela Lehmberg, coordinator of the Offce of Wellness Education, recommended the massage chair and a sound machine.


She said the Health Center has a massage chair and students offered “great feedback about it.”


She added it would be “a great opportunity to have another place people can go get that massage.”


Lehmberg also brought resources from the Health Center to the Rams Renew Space.


Some resources include ear plugs, sleep masks, and “calm cards,” which list breathing techniques and app suggestions for relaxation and sleep.


President F. Javier Cevallos said he believes adding the room was “a great idea.”


He said, “We had a very generous donor that contributed to that room. ... She is so generous to the University and she wanted to help students. Anybody can use that room – you just book it and take your time.


“It is really important to Und spaces to relax and the quiet time we all need and we sometimes forget,” Cevallos added.


Phillippe Raphael, a senior sociology major, said, “As a commuter, it adds a lot to my experience – after driving, stressing to come to this school, fighting for parking – that is a good place you can come to feel grounded before class.


“This is a place for people to find their peace,” he said.


Hannah Polansky, a senior English major, said, “It’s more inclusive for people who want to pray adequately. It is a good resource.”


Polansky said she hopes “there is a way to monitor who is in there at what time because people just trash nice things,” and that it can be “kept a nice place for people who would actually beneUt from it.”


Kaily Russell, a senior education major, said she would use it if she had time in between classes and said it gives students an option for decompressing.


“You’re at school, you’re on campus, you’re stressed ... rather than having to go Und a way to grieve, the resources are right there,” said Russell.


Lehmberg said, “I think it adds a little respite on campus – whether they are commuters or residents, students can go to have some privacy and relaxation, maybe even a power nap, a massage, or to grab a bunch of great resources.”


González thanked Student Success and Assessment Librarian Hedda Monaghan for setting up the reservation software, Part-Time Reference Librarian Yoshio Shartin for creating a guide for the room, and Periodicals Supervisor Debbie Hogan for decorating.


She also expressed gratitude to Facilities for painting the room, hanging wall art, and assembling the massage chair.


“It certainly takes a village,” said González.


Murtaugh said, “I think it’s important that at some point in time, we learn how to turn things o/ and just sit quietly because we’re all hooked up to everything.”


She said she meditates daily for nearly a half an hour at a time.


“When I was a student here in art class, Mr. [Stephen] Durkee said to us, ‘Don’t feel obligated to cover every blank space in the classroom. ... They need a blank space to focus on and to look at, because even kids become over-stimulated,’” said Murtaugh.


One piece of advice she has to offer students is, “One step at a time. Sometimes, we project too much, but one step at a time. ... Don’t project too far in advance.”

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