Brennan Angel

Emily MacDonald is always stressed out about school and has a hard time finding a place to study – she doesn’t like the atmosphere of the library and finds too many distractions at home.

Two years ago she found a perfect place to spend her time between classes and studying for big exams – a place more comfortable than the library and quieter than her home – when the Swanson Center opened.

“I feel at ease when I’m here. It’s a comfort to me because I’m definitely a stresser about school. I study here and I’m less stressed than I am when I’m at home. It calms my heart,” social sciences sophomore MacDonald said.

The Swanson Center is a Christian-based study center aimed at integrating faith and academia. The center, open to students of all faiths, has a 600-volume collection of theology and philosophy books relating to the Christian perspective.

“I’ve had a lot of great conversations in here about all kinds of stuff, but a lot of times the books in here will spur conversation as well. When I get bored of studying, I definitely peruse the books,” MacDonald said.

The center is run mostly by student volunteers, who act as librarians for others who want check out books. They also help out in finding the right books to answer any faith-based questions one might have.

One student volunteer, mechanical engineering sophomore Brenton Haven, said he likes volunteering at the Swanson Center because it has a distraction-free environment with everything else he needs, including free wireless Internet.

“I like it better than the main library because you can’t just people watch the whole time. You know the people that are here, they’re friendly and you get studying done,” he said.

The Swanson Center is named after Cal Poly philosophy alumnus Mike Swanson, who contributed much time and many resources to the opening of the center. The center is now overseen by the staff of Campus Crusade; they are in charge of finding sponsors for the center and adding to the collection of books.

According to its Web site, the Swanson Center hopes to fulfill the needs of this generation by offering a place for students of all faiths and beliefs to be challenged to consider more by expanding their minds.

The comfortable setting of the center is complete with free coffee and tea, tables and chairs, cozy couches and philosophical artwork plastered throughout the walls, with phrases to make you question the meaning of life, such as “You don’t have a soul, you are a soul.”

“Everyone who comes in here is really chill. It’s really relaxed when I’m here, and I feel like that’s because it is a Christian-run facility. It’s definitely filled with God’s love,” MacDonald said.

The Swanson Center is located in Room 4 of the old Pacheco Elementary School on the corner of Slack Street and Grand Avenue. For more information on the center and its hours, check out the Web site at

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