RCSJ Celebrates Zen Den with Ribbon-Cutting

The RCSJ-Cumberland Zen Den. TOP: RCSJ students, faculty, staff, and Cumberland County Campus Educational Foundation representatives at the Zen Den ribbon cutting.

On December 6, Rowan College of South Jersey–Cumberland (RCSJ) held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the opening of its new Zen Den. College students, faculty and staff, along with Cumberland County Campus Educational Foundation (CCCEF) representatives, participated in the grand opening festivities.

This new room was created to be a safe space for students, faculty and administrators to use as a place to find a moment of peace.

“Zen Dens are evidence-based lounges … that promote mindfulness and decrease stress,” said Ramon Casanova, program manager, RCSJ Adult Center for Transition (ACT).

“Zen Dens are quiet and soothing spaces for visitors to relax, meditate and take time for self-care,” he added. “[They] also provide a safe place for students and college staff to reflect and discuss their mental health.”

Casanova came up with the idea of the Zen Den after noticing there weren’t any spaces on campus specifically set aside for students to relax, breathe and regain some mental clarity during challenging times. Casanova gave credit to Cindy Fornes, clinical consultant, ACT, who helped co-facilitate the project.

The CCCEF also played a major role in support of this tranquil space. “The Foundation financed the Zen Den to support Cumberland students and staff with a safe space to study, participate in activities, destress and relax, and to build community,” said Dr. Maria LeBlanc, executive director, CCCEF.

The Zen Den, located right next to the Cumberland Café inside the Student and Enrollment Services Center, is filled with calming items such as plants, a Zen Garden, a sound machine, and a pink Himalayan salt lamp.

ACT students are tasked with maintaining the sign-in sheet and helping to keep the place organized and serene for the room’s visitors.

During the ribbon cutting ceremony, several students, including freshman Steven Mertis, talked about the importance of having a room to “chillax” in. “It’s good for … students if they’re feeling stressed,” said the Liberal Arts major, who plans on becoming a special education teacher. “They can use the color timers, they can look at the plants, they can listen to the sounds and all that good stuff.”

Dr. Jim Piccone, vice president/chief administrative operator, RCSJ Cumberland, recognized the positive benefits the room can provide and plans on utilzing it himself. “I’m going to sit down on the couch and use the sound machine,” he said. “In this stressful world, we all need a place where we can get away and destress and feel safe. I’m glad it’s open to the entire college—students and staff—and I’m looking forward to seeing how much it’s used.”

For more information about the Adult Center for Transition, visit RCSJ.edu/ACT.