Johns Hopkins University has consciously—and sometimes creatively—set aside areas for student relaxation and socialization in recent years. There are popular café spaces in the Brody Learning Commons and Undergraduate Teaching Labs, a new late-night entertainment venue called The LaB, and colorful chairs playfully arranged on Homewood campus quads.
But none of those spaces has satisfied the need for a true student center, a nonacademic, campus social space for students. That point has been clearly and repeatedly echoed by generations of Hopkins students who have sought—as an April 2018 op-ed in the student newspaper titled “We need a student center” put it—a place to “promote social life at Hopkins, boost school spirit, and encourage campus activities beyond the classroom.”
At long last, the wait for such a space is over.
Students celebrate the announcement that a student center is going to be built on the Homewood campus.
In March, President Ronald J. Daniels announced that the university intends to move forward with plans to build a student center at Homewood. The facility, made possible through fundraising and generous philanthropic support, will be a home for all Hopkins students, tailored to their needs and shaped by their input.
“As the needs of our student body have evolved, so has the desire for a different and dedicated student center taken hold,” Daniels wrote in a message to the Hopkins community. “This will be a new kind of space for us—one that is not academically focused, but entirely social by design. … It will be a site to which everyone lays equal claim and from which everyone benefits.”
It’s so inspiring to see an entire century of student advocacy and SGA advocacy culminate in this incredible moment.”
A.J. Tsang ’19
The future student center will be situated at the intersection of 33rd and Charles streets—an area that includes the current location of the Mattin Center—and serve as a welcoming entrance to the Homewood campus. The new building will seek to keep alive the spirit of creativity made possible by the many donors—including Christina Mattin, a 1976 Hopkins graduate—who supported the center’s creation in 2001 as a home for the visual and performing arts on campus.
The location was selected based on the flow of students on and off campus from the Charles Street corridor and on its proximity to the heart of Homewood activity, including the Beach and campus libraries. Initial estimates suggest that the project could be completed by the end of summer 2024.
“It’s so inspiring to see an entire century of student advocacy and SGA advocacy culminate in this incredible moment,” said senior A.J. Tsang, executive president of JHU’s Student Government Association and a vocal supporter of efforts to build a student center on the campus.
“It’s so exciting, too, because I think the student center is really going to revolutionize student life at Hopkins. I think it will be a platform for creating a more positive culture around mental health, diversity and inclusion, civic engagement, and so much more. And I really hope it will be an inclusive and accessible space where students from all across Hopkins can come together and celebrate what it means to be a Blue Jay.”
Added Lauren Paulet, a sophomore international studies major who has also been among those advocating for a student center: “Hopkins doesn’t currently have as many spaces for students to get away from academics and dedicate time to ourselves. We should have a time and a space reserved for academics and other spaces available for student organizations to come together, because those organizations are what really unify us.
“Really, the sky is the limit.”