The new Schow Science Library is a beautiful space, with comfortable and expensive chairs. It represents William College’s commitment to the sciences as we approach the 21st Century. Sadly, it also represents a giant leap backword in the struggle for safe, responsible 24 hour study space. Explaining that the expense of staffing the library 24 hours a day would be prohibitive and cut into more essential services, the Library Committee squelched hopes of keeping the Schow Library open to late night studiers.
Dean of the College Peter Murphy is quoted in this week’s Record as saying, “if the Science Library is not to be a 24-hour space, then we need to look afresh at the issue and find some good alternative.” We could not agree more. We understand the Library Committee’s concerns, but although the College’s intentions are good, we fear that cracking down on 24 hour space will lead to greater problems, as students will engage in dangerous “binge studying” behind closed dorm room doors late at night.
Simply put, we are all Williams College students. The most fundamental common ground we have is that we attend classes, we study, we are here to learn. Therefore, it stands to reason that the College should try to make it as easy as possible for us to pursue this goal. We don’t consider ourselves entitled to very much, an unexamined sense of entitlement being, in our opinion, the worst possible consequence of a complacent life of privilege, but we feel justified in saying that if we want to work on a thesis, on a paper, or just read a book after 9 p.m. on a Friday night, the College should not go out of its way to place obstacles in our path.
Currently there are a few options for late night studying, but we feel there should be more. Jesup, while good for writing papers, is not the best place to do research or read, and Goodrich can be hit or miss, especially on the weekends. The hours of the new Science Library are significant specifically because they represent a decrease in the amount of available 24 hour study space on campus, since the three science libraries replaced by the Schow Library were previously open 24 hours.
The College should be providing more, not less space for those of us who, for various reasons, find ourselves studying when normal citizens would be asleep. For this reason, we applaud and thank Dean Murphy and everyone working on increasing the number of useful 24 hour spaces on campus. Remember, people are going to study anyway, don’t make us sneak around.