Letter from the Editor: Free the study rooms

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By Brian Karimi

It has always been difficult to find a quiet place to do work here at Union, but it is especially annoying now that I am writing my thesis and we have two expensive, brand-new buildings on campus which could be providing much-needed space.

Unfortunately, they are not, and the college should seriously consider changing its exclusionary policy.

This past Sunday, I was asked by a campus safety officer to leave Olin 211, a spacious and quiet classroom in the second-floor interdisciplinary wing. Why? I was not on the “access list.” I was shocked; I had thought being a student here at Union granted me access to the institution’s facilities.

This would not be a problem if the library was an option. But the library is usually full, and serious students will tell you it is more a place for social hour, phone conversations and Facebook than serious studying. There appears to be no attempt on behalf of the college or the library to address serious issues raised by students about Schaffer’s unprofessional atmosphere.

Neither are Minervas a viable option. They are designed as social spaces, and certainly function as such: there is little or no writing space, people watching TV, and residents walking in and out.

As I searched for a new place to study, all of the following rooms were similarly locked, even through key card: Lippmann 101, 100, 200 and 201; Wold lounges 119-125 and 216-222 along with Wold 128 and 225.

The argument that students ought to be locked out of these rooms because they contain expensive equipment is not merely objectionable; it is wholly untenable. Science and engineering students have card access to rooms with far more expensive pieces, so the college would have to make the case that social science and humanities students are more likely to steal less expensive equipment. But Wold 118, a lab on the second floor with expensive computers, is always accessible. The college’s policy is not consistent.

But say the college did make such an argument, or even a similar one. Enter Wold 104—a side room on the first floor with only a table and a few chairs. It was also locked on Sunday evening. Locking Wold 104 is entirely indefensible because it is devoid of any equipment worth stealing. It was locked on Monday evening as well.

A liberal arts college stressing interdisciplinary study college should want social science students studying in engineering spaces, and vice versa. It should want humanities students in the physics wing.

The college’s policy does not reflect its stated commitment. I am writing an interdisciplinary thesis and thus should have felt right at home in the interdisciplinary room from which I was ejected.

If the college wants to encourage study and let students use our pricey new buildings, it should unlock these rooms. If the college wants to be the more serious and prestigious institution I am certain it aspires to be, it will reform the library atmosphere.

Doing so will not only show the student body that the college values equal access to quiet work space, but it will also help cultivate a more academic atmosphere.

 

 

 

Brian Karimi, World Editor

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