January 14, 2005

All-night crowd filled first floor over finals week

Although Chicago students may have found the 2004 autumn quarter exam period nearly identical to previous stressful, sleepless finals weeks, there was at least one new luxury: The first floor of the Regenstein was added to the all-night study space, giving students a place to go outside o f the A-Level.

Student Government (SG) and the Student Government Academics Committee (SGAC) oversaw the expansion of the Regenstein Library's all-night study space to encompass not only the A-level, but also the first floor during finals week. The extended space coincided, probably not coincidentally, with a surge in all-night study space usage during the end of last quarter.

Yet, while proving to be a welcome addition for students weary of the crowded, panicked atmosphere of the A-level, some remained dissatisfied with the 24-hour study locations.

The first floor remained open all night on the Thursday and Friday of reading period and for the first three days of exam week.

According to Benjamin Murphy, the Supervisor of Identification and Privileges, on the days that the ground floor remained open, all-night study space attendance increased substantially from the same period in 2003. During the previous year's reading period, 199 persons utilized the 24-hour space, compared with the 338 individuals who flocked to the Reg in 2004.

On the Tuesday of exam week this past December, 119 more students poured over their books in the library all night than did on the corresponding day last autumn. During the first three days of exam week, when the first floor was open all night, attendance exceeded 200 on each night—a crowd that would not fit comfortably in the A-level alone. David Clayman, SG's second-year representative, wrote in an e-mail, "In total, the number of students using the All-Night Study Space increased from last year by 414 students."

The approximate cost of the expansion is $2000, the price of an additional library attendant, a UCPD officer, and supplementary custodial services. SG has broken down this estimated cost to a per-student all-night study space price tag.

"Assuming the final bill to be exactly $2000, at 650 students the average per-person cost would be $3.08," Clayman wrote, stressing that the final expense had not yet been determined.

The SGAC aims to enhance the all night study space through a number of future initiatives. At a $16 per hour charge, it considers the extra UCPD officer a pricey feature, for which it hopes to find an additional source of funding or eliminate altogether. The Committee has also considered extending MacLab hours, which currently end at 1 a.m.

By examining hourly attendance rates, the Committee expects to determine a practical time for the all-night study space to close. For example, if a certain number or percentage of students have left the study space by a particular hour, it may make practical sense to close the first floor and A-level at that time. The Committee is also hoping to find a permanent source of funding for the expansion.

As any fretful scholar who has retreated to the A-level during finals week knows, the atmosphere can be hectic and noisy, which some find unhelpful for exam preparation. Many students have welcomed the expansion, claiming that the first floor is quieter and better ventilated than the A-level. Yet some still found the space inadequate. Anastasia Shakotko, a fourth-year economics major in the College, said, "It's difficult to work in groups on the first floor. There are no chalk boards for us to write our problems on."