Yale Daily News

The Good Life Center — a student wellness hub that has spent the past two years on the fourth floor of Byers Hall in Silliman College — is expanding to a second location in the Schwarzman Center, scheduled to open in January 2021.

Decisions about how to use the new space, which will become the Center’s flagship location, will have to wait until further public health guidelines are determined for the spring semester. But Silliman Head of College and Good Life Center founder Laurie Santos said the Good Life Center’s new spaces will be open as soon as it is safe to do so.

“Like the Good Life Center in Silliman College, our Schwarzman space will serve as an inclusive, restorative, and energizing environment for community, belonging, and well-being,” wrote Alexa Vaghenas ’20, Woodbridge Fellow for the Good Life Center, in an email to the News. “It will be a place where students can learn evidence-based tools for effectively coping with negative emotions, as well as evidence-based tools for thriving.”

Although the Schwarzman Center — a wrap-around student life hub that is set to replace the former Commons — was originally supposed to open this fall, the pandemic has pushed back the grand opening for at least a semester.

According to the Schwarzman Center’s Director of Marketing and Communications Maurice Harris, the new location will take up approximately 1,300 square feet of the second floor annex in the Schwarzman Center’s Grove Street addition.

The partnership between the Schwarzman Center and the Good Life Center, Harris said, was “almost instinctive” due to the annex’s intended availability to all students and their shared values of collaboration, wellness and belonging.

“The new space means we can meet the needs of more students who need access to this well-being programming,” said Santos.

What specific facilities and services will be available to Yale community members in the new space are yet to be determined. Santos explained that she is particularly excited about the new space’s natural light and larger rooms.

Without access to popular fixtures like the lounge and the sandbox — a silent, technology-free room — Santos and others on the Good Life Center team have had to rethink what initiatives the Center could run this semester. Programming for the Good Life Center shifted online this fall to align with pandemic health precautions, although in recent weeks some in-person events, including yoga, have been hosted outdoors.

The current space shares the fourth floor of Byers Hall with the Acorn, a popular student-run café that has halted operations for the duration of the fall term.

Opened in the fall of 2018, the Center is among the most popular spots on campus, according to Santos. Both the Acorn and the original Good Life Center facilities — which include the sandbox, lounge and study — are due to stay in Byers Hall.

Although Silliman College is easily accessible for most undergraduates, Santos explained that graduate and professional students have had trouble accessing the space. Community members and visitors who do not have keycard access to Silliman usually have to obtain limited gate access to Silliman or have to dial the intercom to enter Byers Hall.

The Schwarzman Center’s location in Hewitt Quadrangle, commonly known as Beinecke Plaza, means that the wellness center will be able to reach many more students and staff.

“The space also allows us to expand our offerings, meaning more students can propose events and wellness offerings on campus,” Santos said.

Vaghenas said that she hoped the additional space will remind students to keep well-being at the forefront of their Yale experience.

“To me, this new space serves as a symbol for the importance of prioritizing self-care amidst the busyness of student life,” she added.

The original site of the Good Life Center is located at 505 College St.

Emily Tian | emily.tian@yale.edu