Religious and Spiritiual Life and Community Living Swap Spaces

The Cadigan Center for Religious and Spiritual Life (RSL) has moved from 38 Woodside Avenue to the basement of Keefe Campus Center. The offices of Housing and Operations and Community Safety have taken their place.

Religious and Spiritiual Life and Community Living Swap Spaces
Community Living’s new offices at 38 Woodside Ave., on the far western edge of campus. Photo courtesy of Amherst College.

The Cadigan Center for Religious and Spiritual Life (RSL) moved from the building at 38 Woodside Ave., located across the street from the Octagon and behind the new Lyceum, to the basement of Keefe Campus Center in June. In turn, the offices of Community Living — Housing and Operations, Residential Engagement and Wellbeing, and Community Safety — have all relocated to 38 Woodside.

Dean of Students and Chief Student Affairs Officer Angie Tissi-Gassoway spearheaded the move last year and informed all offices involved late last semester, according to RSL Director Harrison Blum. Members of the office advocated for years to relocate the center onto central campus, long before Blum assumed the role of director in 2018, he said.

Since the move, Blum has seen a noticeable increase in the number of face-to-face interactions with students.

“I’ve run into the same student who I have known and worked with in the past, but usually only saw when we made appointments to see each other,” he said. “I’ve seen that person four times in passing in the last week. My access to students has notably increased.”

Marie Lalor, director of Housing and Operations, said that her office is adjusting well to the move in a statement. Until the end of last semester, her office was operating out of a one-room office on the first floor of Keefe. Despite the relocation, Lalor said that the office is “welcoming students to our new address with the same regularity that we did when we were located in Keefe Campus Center.”

Lalor said that an initial concern her office had was that they would face a similar issue to RSL — that the peripheral location at 38 Woodside would make it difficult for students to find it.

“Over our first few months at 38 Woodside, that concern has subsided,” she said. “We are closer to the heart of campus than it looks, nestled between the new [Aliki Perroti and Seth Frank] Lyceum and Newport [House].”

Both Blum and Lalor added that the larger space at 38 Woodside is better suited to the offices of Community Living than it was to the Center of RSL.

“We have so much more space to both spread out and work more effectively now,” Lalor said. “We had 5-plus professional staff and several student staff working out of 101 Keefe last spring, and it was tight. We are all settling in with more wiggle room, and are making good use of the space at 38 Woodside.”

Apart from a logistical standpoint, Blum hopes that having the Center for RSL centrally located on campus will foster a “normalization of faith life as part of a full human experience.”

“Sometimes in academic institutions or spaces, being faithful is … thought to be in conflict with intellectual rigor,” he said, noting that the college had room to grow in terms of embracing faith life as a part of student wellbeing. “Toward that end, I’m really pleased that RSL can be more centrally located, more impactful.”