When students create their own community spaces

Georgia State students find a convenient place to smoke in between classes. Photos by Unique Rodriguez | The Signal

The collegiate experience in teen-geared movies optimizes green spaces fit with hammocks, frisbees and hacky sack.

Lacking an official communal area on the Atlanta campus, students have historically created their own space to hang out.

Georgia State’s library plaza is currently undergoing an extensive renovation that began last April with the demolition of Kell Hall. Georgia State is constructing a “greenway,” a path that will run through the plaza beside grass and trees in between Langdale Hall, Sparks Hall and the Arts and Humanities Building.

The construction will also feature “stairs connecting Courtland Street to a ground-level entrance to Sparks Hall, an addition to Library North with a ground-level entrance and stairs leading from the greenway to Langdale Plaza,” according to the official Georgia State News Hub. 

Before talks of the green space’s implementation began, Georgia State already had an unofficial communal area for students to sit and talk to one another between classes.

The gathering of students sitting side by side outside of the late Kell Hall was informally referred to as the “smircle,” also known as the “smoke circle.”

Although Georgia State bans smoking of any kind, those at the smircle would partake in the use of tobacco and even cannabis — two students were charged with possession of the illegal drug in November 2018. 

The smircle gained popularity due to its collective energy not different from that of the stereotypical college green space, individuals often bringing hammocks of their own to lounge between the few trees atop the mulched island surrounded by concrete. 

Individuals have also created art in the area of the smircle. Last year, an art installation made up of plastic grocery bags was tied together and attached to the trees within the space. 

As Kell Hall’s demolition and increased construction have persisted, the smircle faded out, the first months of last fall semester lacking students populating within library plaza. Though as time has gone on, students are finding new areas to hang out and smoke between classroom buildings. 

Beside the ramp beside the fountain, which has not been filled with water since the construction began, students have housed a new smircle (weather depending).

Sources partaking in the new location of the smircle cannot confirm or deny that smoking of illegal substances persists, but the legacy of the smircle lives on with this relocation.  

“[The construction] is bulls—, [but] I appreciate that they’re turning it into a green space,” Nick Channavong, a Georgia State student, said, who finds that smircle creates a “sense of community” for him, even though he himself does not smoke.

“Usually, we just let people come to us,” Channavong said. “You don’t have to smoke in order to be a part of our group. Our biggest pet peeve over there is people walking up the stairs and just not being sociable.”