As of last Saturday, Emory students have a new place to relax with the Residence Hall Association’s (RHA) implementation of a new pilot program to install hammocks on campus.
Because this is a pilot program, there will be only two hammocks up for the time being, according to Jon Yenni, Goizueta Business School junior and RHA president.
One hammock is now located in the Harris Courtyard, and the other can be found on a grassy area at Clairmont campus. By request of the administration, stand-alone hammocks are being used to protect the well-being of trees around campus, according to Yenni.
Depending on how the pilot program plays out, the number of hammocks could increase in the fall, according to College Council (CC) President and College junior Ashish Gandhi, who played an active role along with Yenni in bringing the hammocks to campus. Whether the program is successful will depend not only on student reception and safety, but also on the reliability of students and community members to refrain from defacing or stealing the hammocks, Yenni said.
Originally, according to Gandhi, they proposed hammocks at 17 locations across campus, but they were unable to do so due to liability issues and University rules concerning landscaping.
The hammocks are currently slated to be available for students’ relaxation through October or November, when they will be taken down due to the increasingly chilly weather, according to Yenni. There is a possibility that the hammocks will be taken down for the summer months and then put back up at the beginning of the fall semester to decrease the likelihood of theft, Gandhi said.
Yenni said he hopes these hammocks will “not only foster community at Emory, but also relieve stress and allow students to enjoy the beautiful weather that we get to enjoy in Atlanta.”
He noted that he was first inspired to pursue this project when he was at Washington University in St. Louis for a conference two summers ago and saw hammocks on their quadrangle.
“I thought it was a great idea, so when I came back last year as a sophomore, I wanted to implement that program,” Yenni said, who at the time was serving as vice president of advocacy for RHA. Through this position, Yenni was able to begin gaining support and guidance for the program.
Alongside Yenni, Gandhi was also involved in establishing the hammock initiative, as it was part of his campaign for CC president last year.
Yenni and Gandhi were able to get the project approved early last spring by Matthew Early, vice president of campus services.
Assistant Dean for Campus Life and Director of Residence Life Andy Wilson and Assistant Director of Residence Life and Operations Countess Hughes, as well as Chief of Staff to the Vice President Karen Salisbury, also played strong guidance roles in this project, Yenni said.
“From [getting the pilot project approved], I had to work around a lot of obstacles to finally get [the hammocks] installed,” Yenni said.
In addition to getting approval for the project, securing funding was also a challenge, Yenni said. Gandhi explained that because RHA had some money left over toward the end of the spring semester, and the project had already been approved, having RHA take financial responsibility for the project was the “natural thing to do.”
If the pilot program does go well through the beginning of next fall, Gandhi mentioned that CC might be willing to shoulder some of the financial burden of the new hammocks.
In the future, Gandhi said he hopes to see hammocks up in more central locations such as in front of Harris Hall, at the Goizueta Business School, on the Freshman Quadrangle that will be complete in the fall, and also on Clairmont campus.
College junior Iris Shin said she is excited that these new hammocks are being installed, but also believes that there should more be than one hammock on main campus for the purpose of fostering community.
“I think it would be really nice to have a hammock,” she said. “But I wonder though if anyone would really be able to use it because it’s a one-person thing. You can’t really share it.”
In regard to the hammock’s location near Harris Hall, College freshman Lex Gardner expressed concern, stating that it is not really a central location.
“I like the idea, but the Harris Courtyard isn’t conveniently located for most students,” Gardner said. “Maybe a location such as the Quad would have been better.”
— Contact Amanda Kline.