New event space caters to all


Iman Khan

Student Affairs and the Center for Student Involvement opened a new multipurpose and versatile venue in the Marino Recreation Center called What’s Poppin’.

After pitching the idea for the pop-up space and having a few interactive activities, Emily Hardman, the director of student programming and communications, began building a calendar of events for the new space. Opening on Sept. 5, student organizations utilized the space for single-day events, maintaining the true sense a short-term “pop-up” event.

The location was previously an ATI Physical Therapy space. Once the business closed, Hardman took over the space, transforming it into What’s Poppin.

“[The Marino Center] opened up this space that there wasn’t really a solid plan in place for. So we in Student Affairs heard about this and we approached it as, ‘We don’t know what is going to happen to this place long-term, but we don’t want it to sit there and go unused because it’s such a prime location,” Hardman said.

Hardman said the pop-up space allows for a variety of students to come in and host different events that would be difficult to do in other areas on campus. Because of the space’s front-facing location on Huntington Avenue, Hardman finds it to be a perfect spot for community involvement and promoting events that would interest students.

“We’re trying to encourage student organizations and departments, and really anyone on campus to use the space in a way [to] do programming that’s open to everyone. We’re trying to avoid doing closed events that are sort of invitation-only. We want to make the space really accessible to everybody,” Hardman said.

Graduate student Rini Ghosh, a weekly programmer, also uses the venue on a day-by- day basis as a study space.

“I think it is a nice place for students to come and unwind. Also, the other places on campus seem too crowded or very utilitarian. This is more of a space where students can come and basically do anything,” Ghosh said. “They can come here and study together, they can come and catch up on the news or they can come here and just hang out, relax. I think that kind of space doesn’t exist on campus — where you can just take a break from everything.”

Over the past month, Hardman’s team, as well as other student organizations like the Student Government Association, or SGA, held events at What’s Poppin’. The SGA hosted a voter registration event at the location on the nationwide registration day Sept. 25. The What’s Poppin’ staff will also be hosting more group events in the space, such as Northeastern University Police Department training sessions and Green Line Records performances.

Every Wednesday Ghosh organizes Do It Yourself crafts such as decorated tiles and bamboo plantings.

Although the new space is open, Hardman is still understaffed. Thus far, three work-study students manage the venue, including Kathleen Ballard, a third-year pharmacy major, who became involved through an event that the SGA held in the new space.

“Right now, I think it’s very fluid in what it can be used for,” Ballard said. “So, we’ll have organizations reach out to us and host their events, we’ll have our own events …Then, on a normal day to day, we’ll have normal private rooms open for studying, we’ll have lounge space, a microwave in the back for students to come and just hangout and eat food. It’s whatever students want.”

In order to make the space more functional, Hardman and the managers hope to get feedback from students so that the space can cater to them.

“I like people asking ‘What is this?’ and me explaining, ‘It’s anything you want it to be.’ If you want to eat your lunch here, if you want to have a group project meeting over there, if you want to just chill,” Ballard said. “A girl came in and napped on the couch for an hour and said that was really critical for her; Having students come in and understand and that it’s anything they want it to be for them.”

Fellow manager Lauren Skirball, a second-year politics, philosophy and economics major, said students can use the space in ways that they might not be able to find in other areas on campus.

“We have all those study rooms and you don’t have to reserve them to use them,” Skirball said. “You can just walk in and use it whenever. Whereas in Snell, to get a private space, it’s really hard. You have to go online and rent a space. This is just much more accessible.”

Skirball emphasized the importance of bringing the community together at What’s Poppin’.

“I am really excited to see all the different people that it brings in,” Skirball said. “I know that there’s gonna be a lot of different organizations on campus bringing all sorts of different people and events, and I think it’ll be great to see how the spaces mesh all the communities at Northeastern and foster intergroup interactions.”