New Student House Opens

The Atlas Offers Food, Beverages, and More

By: Jenae Williams

A warm and inviting atmosphere welcomes students.

Walla Walla University students celebrated the opening of a new student house on Nov. 3 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and grand opening event.

Called The Atlas, the new student house will be operated by the Associated Students of Walla Walla University (ASWWU). The house is located on the corner of College Avenue and Whitman Drive and was most recently used by the School of Social Work and Sociology.  

Plans for the redesign of the building started long ago. In the 2003-04 school year, Paul Rhynard, then ASWWC president, envisioned a student center that would provide students with a place to study and socialize.  Since that time nearly 10 years ago, each president has worked toward making the center a reality by planning and saving money for the project.  

At the opening of The Atlas, James Oliver, current ASWWU president, addressed attendees. Oliver told details of The Atlas’ development and thanked those who contributed to the project through the years. Rob Folkenberg, ASWWU spiritual vice president, offered a building dedication prayer. Finally, the last three former ASWWU presidents, Evan Kinne (2008-09 president and 2009 graduate), Eric Wilkinson (2009-10 president and 2010 graduate), and Nolan Kinne (2010-11 president), participated in cutting the ribbon.

In keeping with the vision carefully laid out over the last several years, The Atlas will serve as place for students to study, connect, and worship together in a comfortable setting, conducive to group interaction. The house will also offer beverages and snacks on campus. The interior of The Atlas is decorated in an Old World style with artwork by WWU students. In partnership with Student Missions, The Atlas features a map that lists the location of current student missionaries and ACA students studying abroad.

In its final stages, William Fandrich acted as project manager to finish the fixtures; Chelsea Hardesty styled the building’s interior; and current ASWWU financial vice president Liz Douglass and The Atlas manager Jason Birkenstock coordinated the final work of the project. Ricky Barbosa, a sophomore design major, designed the logo, which is prominently placed on a building wall, as well as on all aprons and hot drink sleeves. 

At the opening, Oliver thanked Ken Rogers, vice president for student life and mission, for his consistent support of WWU students, and Shawn McCrery of Tektoniks Corporation for contracting the renovation of The Atlas. Oliver also acknowledged that his list of contributors was not complete—a host of other students and individuals have contributed to the development of The Atlas through the years.

While The Atlas serves the students of WWU, it is also open to friends of WWU and the public. In addition to its customary hot and chilled beverages, the cafe offers vegan drink options as well. The Atlas is open Monday through Thursday 7 a.m.-11 p.m., Friday 7 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturday 7 p.m.-11 p.m. and Sunday 8 a.m.-11 p.m. 

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