A SOCIAL HUB AND GOOGLE-RATED CAFE THAT HAS SERVED THE UNIVERSITY COMMUNITY FOR MORE THAN 50 YEARS
By Nicholas Haythorn, Beta Chapter President
Eta Kappa Nu’s Beta Chapter was chartered at Purdue University in 1906. Unfortunately, the first few years were rough due to a university-wide ban on fraternal organizations. In 1913, the university lifted the ban on organizations, and the Beta Chapter was able to re-establish its presence on campus. The Chapter has been active since, making it one of the oldest continually active organizations on Purdue’s campus.
The HKN Lounge at Purdue was established in 1968, having recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. Historical knowledge among current Beta Chapter students indicates that the lounge has operated every semester since then. Beta Chapter students operate the HKN Lounge during both semesters of the academic year, except for the first week of the semester (to prepare) and the last week of the semester (for finals). “The Lounge” as it is affectionately referred to, is open to all Purdue students, faculty, and staff from 7:30 a.m. until 5 p.m., five days a week. It is divided into two rooms. The Outer Lounge is a cozy space with tables, chairs, and couches for patrons to enjoy. The Lounge is usually full of students enjoying snacks, studying, playing “Super Smash Brothers” on the Lounge’s Nintendo Wii, and even occasionally napping. The Inner Lounge is a miniature café, selling donuts, bagels, coffee, snacks, sodas, and other treats to the Purdue University population. In its 50 years of operation, The Lounge has become a Purdue University institution, having 4.8 stars on Google.
A day at the Lounge is divided into 10, one-hour Person-on-Duty (POD) shifts, each of which is staffed by at least two active Beta Chapter members. Because The Lounge is in the basement of Purdue’s Electrical Engineering building and staffed by student volunteers, it can provide snacks and drinks at incredibly discounted rates. Breakfast at HKN, consisting of a bagel with cream cheese, and a cup of freshly brewed coffee costs just US$2.00. A student looking for a can of soda can find it for US$0.60, far less than any vending machine. If one was looking for a sweet treat, they could find any major candy bar for sale at US$0.90, or a donut for a US dollar.
The Beta Chapter does make a small profit from The Lounge. Funds are used to keep it in operating condition and also fund the Beta Chapter’s weekly “TG” events for its members (TG being derived from TGIF). Last semester The Lounge served 7,151 cups of coffee, and 4,332 bagels, donuts and muffins. The Lounge is primarily managed by three Beta Chapter officers. The Operations Director, Ethan Campbell, and his committee maintain The Lounge’s stock of snacks, drinks, and other supplies. The Facilities Director, Jackson Sanders, and his committees maintain the coffee machines, computers, and other permanent fixtures in the space. The Treasurer, Alain Chen, handles the finances. Beta Chapter is hoping to save up enough funds to renovate The Lounge in the next few years, enabling its continued ability to serve Purdue University and the greater West Lafayette area.
If you are a Beta Alumnus looking to take a walk down memory lane or just a curious reader, visit The Lounge’s website.