Yale College Dean Peter Salovey and about 50 physics students and faculty gathered Friday afternoon on the third floor of Sloane Physics Lab to celebrate the opening of a new lounge for undergraduate physics majors.
Mirrored after the already-existing lounge for graduate students, the space provides a location for students to socialize and unwind between classes in Sloane without having to leave Science Hill. Though the addition comes late for senior physics majors like David Reiman ’05, the students who attended Friday’s ribbon-cutting seemed excited about the new room.
“We always had to use the graduate lounge,” Reiman said. “It’s nice that future generations of physics students will have their own space.”
In his remarks to the undergraduates present, Salovey commented on the importance of bringing students together in spaces outside the residential colleges. He said the University is oriented toward students’ building communities, and a major is one of those communities. The lounge will facilitate further interaction among students in the Physics Department, Salovey said.
Physics Deparment chairman Ramamurti Shankar presided over the lounge’s opening ceremonies and the preceding pizza party, welcoming students to the space and encouraging them to make full use of the lounge’s amenities.
Tucked away in a corner of the third floor of the Sloane Physics Lab, the new lounge features four square wooden tables with chairs, two computer stations, six Internet-wired workstations and a kitchenette with a sink and fridge. The room also features a view of downtown New Haven and four purple leather chairs Shankar said would prove to be comfortable, but not so comfortable that students would fall asleep.
“Professor Shankar has done wonderful things in the past to make the Physics Department inviting and great for undergraduates, and this is the next step in that process,” David Gershkoff ’06 said.
Gershkoff, a physics and international studies double major, said he especially appreciates the way in which Shankar has made the major more attainable for students who wish to pursue multiple disciplines.
The event was organized by the Society of Physics Students at Yale, an undergraduate organization of physics majors led by sophomores Ruth Toner, Ning Liang and Maria Gabriella Orochena. The group works to foster a sense of community among physics majors by sponsoring biweekly pizza talks, movie nights and special events that bring undergraduates and physics faculty together, according to the group’s Web site.
The new physics lounge will help the society achieve its goals, Orochena said.
“Now undergraduates will have a place to meet outside the classroom and talk about class work, internships and jobs — and also meet and socialize.” she said.
Many physics students said they are eager to take advantage of the room’s social space. Jon Bittner ’07, a physics major and president of the Yale Bridge Club, said he was already itching to use the lounge’s set of large square tables.
“The first thing I thought was how good it’d be for playing bridge,” he said.