Oasis Wellness Center open to CSUN students

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Casey McGinnis, 19-year-old left, and Glenn Zara, 20-year-old, enjoy the shade provided at the outside courtyard of the Oasis Wellness Center. (Ashley Du/The Sundial)

Alejandro Zizumbo

Under a cloud of conversation and footsteps in front of the University Student Union, located in between the Subway and the Student Resource Center is a place that disconnects from the surface. Climbing down a ruby-red staircase transports one to a different world.

A garden with white chairs and a stone spiral, hidden behind a veil of plants, can be seen from the staircase. Before students know it, they are no longer in a university – but in an oasis.

The USU, in collaboration with other departments on campus, opened the Oasis Wellness Center on Monday, Aug. 24.

According to the center’s manager, Tiffany Shanks, the USU constructed the Oasis Center to provide a stress-free paradise for CSUN students to relax and unwind by providing programs geared to melting away the stress and rejuvenating the body and mind.

“We are here to provide a wide variety of wellness programs and services free for all current CSUN students,” Shanks said. “With all of the stress surrounding the first weeks of school, we want students to find comfort and relaxation at the Oasis and use it as a resource to help enhance their academic success throughout the year.”

The Oasis provides study locations, yoga, acupuncture, massage therapy and napping pods — beds with white, hairdryer-like domes that cover the resting student, thus shutting everything out.

“I’m so sleepy now,” said Andrew Nguyen, who tried the napping pods for the first time. “It was very soothing. Felt like I was literally floating. There was calm beach sounds too.”

Many of the resources for the center came from the other departments on campus. The USU funded and organized the project while the Klotz Student Health Center, the University Counseling Services, and the Health and Human Development Center were all names backing the project.

Upon entering the new building, the atmosphere of the Oasis Center is immediately apparent. As soon as the doors are shut, all the noises of the outside world are replaced by silence. The only thing to hear is the low volume, low tempo music and the tiny drips of a fountain.

Staff on site are also dedicated to the silence, speaking in hushed voices. The inside does its best to combat the scorching sun with dark wood and jet-black floors in a dim light that resembles when the sun has fallen asleep.

The creation of a center for dealing with stress was in the works for a while. According to Sandra Salute, assistant director of fitness and wellness, “[The concept] originated from campus leaders who wanted to fix stress and sleep deprivation. It took a long time for the board to look at other campuses and see what they were doing.”

Stress and sleep deprivation were two of the biggest problems affecting student health on campus, Salute said.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, those who don’t get enough sleep run the risk of contracting a cardiovascular disease.

However, in the quest to build a stress-free environment, there were plenty of stresses for the department to deal with when it started the project.

“Any time you are dealing with renovating an existing space you will undoubtedly deal with some unknown conditions that arise during your demolition,” Shanks said. “We also had to deal with ADA accessibility issues to the lower level. The result of this is the beautiful two-stop red elevator that is now in place. With that said, the project went fairly smoothly and no major challenges occurred.”

For Shahtaj Khan, chair of the USU Board of Directors, the opening of the Oasis was a blessing.

“I’m actually really excited about the nap pods,” Khan said. “Only because I do find myself tired at times. Scheduling a nap maybe in between my classes or during finals would be great.”