November 12, 2004

All Night Study Space may grow to include first floor

On Wednesday evening, the College Council unanimously approved the Student Government (SG) proposal and cost estimate to expand the all-night study space (ANSS) on the A-level of the Reg to the first floor.

David Clayman, a second-year in the College and the chair of the Academic Concerns Committee, originally spearheaded the effort. The current proposal is to expand the ANSS to the first floor on Thursday night of reading period, and Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of finals week. If it passes in the Student Assembly with both College and Graduate councils, the first floor of the Reg would be open all night during finals week of this quarter.

At the Wednesday meeting, Clayman presented the projected costs of expanding the ANSS, prepared by Jim Vaughan, assistant director for access and facilities at the Reg. Clayman said that the costs should come about to about $2,000 dollars; exactly the amount in SG's budget to spend on the ANSS.

Clayman decided to draft the proposal when he was struck by how crowded the A-level was during the midterm crunch of fifth week. Clayman said he counted up the available chairs and then looked at the use statistics during that week, finding that students were pushing the facility to capacity.

"It is simply not possible to study in the A-level without sitting at a table with at least two other people," Clayman said, noting that many students prefer a degree of privacy when they study. "The Reg closes and people end up leaving because they don't want to be on the A-level."

Although Vaughan did not find the statistics for use to suggest overcrowding, he said that use does seem to spike during exam periods, with a high of 203 students using the ANSS on October 27. He also noted that visitations tend to go up sharply during finals week. Vaughan said that in June 2004 there were 242 seats on the A-level, but that there have been some changes and that that number has dropped. "We may be down to 220 seats," he said.

Vaughan said he and his staff are in favor of opening up the first floor of the Reg for all-night study, though he said that the expansion will not likely extend to other floors. "The library is just too, too big," Vaughan said. "We're worried about people having parties, if you will. Kids who have been studying all night may do things that they wouldn't otherwise do," Vaughan said, citing a beer-drinking incident during the week of October 25, involving a small group of students. Vaughan said that the costs associated with keeping the entire library open all night, mostly from staffing and cleaning, were too large to be feasible.

Before the A-level became the site of the ANSS, the Office of the Reynolds Club and Student Activities worked in partnership with SG to provide a 24-hour study space in either the Reynolds Club or Harper Library. According to Bill Michel, assistant vice president for student life, the ANSS was relocated to the Reg since it was easier to staff and closer to Max Palevsky, Hitchcock-Snell, and Pierce.

"The existence of the 24 hour study space in the A-level is thanks to the hard work and dedication of Student Government," Michel said.

Students who have a need for the ANSS were encouraged to hear of the possibility of expanding it beyond the A-level. "It's too noisy and it smells bad. It's just like people socializing down there," said Erin Dillon, a third-year in the College who has been to the ANSS once this quarter.

Vance Broach, a fourth-year in the College, approved of the expansion initiative, though he said that the ANSS should not only be expanded in terms of area, but should also be open during the weekend. "It should be a true 24-hour space," Broach said.

Matt Livits, a fourth-year who uses the ANSS at least twice a week, noted that the problem isn't overcrowding, but rather the noise. "It's a shithole," Livits said. "It's basically a gathering point for people who do work in groups." Livits said that expanding the ANSS to the first floor might be nice, provided that it was reserved for people who preferred to study in silence.

Another concern for students who study in the ANSS is the availability of computers, particularly those with word processors. Lou Pan, a third-year in the College who works as a computing assistant in the MacLab, said that the lab generally closes at 1 a.m., though sometimes he and his co-workers decide to stay late. Pan said that in such cases, he does not put the extra hours down on his time card. "It totally depends on who's here, whether we stay open or not," Pan said.

Millicent Conley, a Ph.D. student in the Social Sciences Department, said she liked the idea of expanding the ANSS, though she thought what was really needed was an all-night cafe.

Not all students see themselves as affected by the expansion proposal. Ian Randall, a third-year in the College, prefers hiding out in the stacks to studying on the A-level. "I spend a lot of time in the stacks, and live off zesty-lemon tuna and wheat thins and Hawaiian Punch," Randall said. "I love Hawaiian Punch."