New student lounge opens in student center


The opening of The Nest in the Student Center on March 27. Photo by Lyndsay Sager.

Lyndsey Sager

A new lounge in the Student Center called The Nest officially opened to students Tuesday at noon.

The lounge, formerly called the Music Listening Center, features a wall mural of Funky Winkerbean, a popular comic strip by Tom Batiuk.

Batiuk worked with another comic strip artist, Chuck Ayers, to design the mural. Ayers and Batiuk also work together on the Crankshaft cartoon, which began in 1987. Both artists are Kent State graduates.

“We’ve wanted to renovate the space,” said Timeka Rashid, assistant dean of students and director of the Center of Student Involvement. “I’ve always believed we needed a point of pride for students at Kent State.”

Rashid said she got the idea for the mural from something she saw at the Ohio State University. She said she realized Kent State had a lot of alumni talent and decided to try to get in contact with Batiuk and Ayers.

“I told them I wanted scenes from student life,” Rashid said. “And they made the mural a time line starting with going to school and getting on the bus and ending with graduation.”

Rashid said The Nest will be open any time the Student Center is open. She hopes students will go there to study, to watch TV and to relax.

Ayers and Batiuk were at the new lounge Tuesday for The Nest’s official opening and reception, which was free and open to the public.

The reception featured the sale and signing of Batiuk’s new book, “The Complete Funky Winkerbean.” The book is the first of a multivolume series celebrating the 40th anniversary of the comic strip, which fell on the same day as The Nest’s grand opening, Rashid said. “Lisa’s Story,” Batiuk’s other comic book about a woman with breast cancer, was also available.

Jamie Lefevre, sophomore visual communication design major, said she attended the event because both of her parents are Funky Winkerbean fans.

“I thought it’d make a good gift to get them signed copies of the book,” Lefevre said. “My mom felt ‘Lisa’s Story’ hit close to home because we have family members with breast cancer.”

Lefevre said she also wanted to come and check out the mural.

“I’m a graphic design student, so things like that really interest me,” Lefevre said.

Those who attended the reception were invited to participate in Funky Winkerbean trivia for the chance to win an original, autographed Kent State-themed comic from Batiuk.

To begin the reception, Ayers and Batiuk both gave brief messages.

“When Chuck and I were students here at Kent, the subject of having our work displayed on the walls of the Student Union never came up for some reason,” Batiuk joked. “I don’t know why that was, but that makes today’s event especially gratifying.”

Ayers agreed, saying it was a “real hoot to see this stuff up here.”

Ashley Williams, senior fine arts major, attended the reception because she’s been a fan of the Funky Winkerbean comics ever since she started reading them in the Toledo Blade when she was younger.

“I already come in here occasionally between classes,” Williams said, “but now it seems a lot more user friendly. I’d come here to study now since the atmosphere is different. Now there are bright colors and more light.”

Contact Lyndsey Sager at [email protected].