Evaluation of student space on campus: journey into the final frontier

Do you go to sleep every weekday by midnight? How about 10:00? And are you always in bed by 9:00 on weekends? If you answered “yes” to all of these questions, then you probably think that there’s no problem with available student space on campus. And you would happen to be wrong. Because, for the rest of us, it seems rather obvious that there’s nowhere on campus for students to hang out after working hours.

As it stands, there are very few spaces on campus that remain open most of the time. Jesup is a computer center, and while this makes it a fine place to compute, it fails to serve any of the other needs of student space. What are the other needs of student space, you may ask? Well, in my ever-unhumble opinion, students need four types of spaces available: spaces for study, spaces for hanging out, spaces for recreation and spaces for eating. Some of the latter three can probably be combined, but they are incompatible with the study space.

Unfortunately, this incompatibility isn’t really being addressed by the powers that be. Jesup clearly was only meant for computing. The other big spaces that exist now are Baxter Lounge and Goodrich, and both of these are in a luminous limbo where they haven’t worked as places to hang out but have enough hanging out going on to prevent adequate studying. Especially with music playing in Goodrich, it’s not only impossible to study, but barely possible to relax. And Baxter Lounge…well, they could do more with Baxter Lounge.

Baxter is a nice space just waiting to be used. Just imagine all the greatness that would accrue if we found a way to keep the rest of Baxter open through the night. They already have the lounge and the radio station; why not open up the whole basement? That basement has a room with comfortable furniture, tables for sitting at and pool tables. Pool tables; that’s what we really need. A hang-out space where students can go and relax during all hours, comfy chairs, pool tables, maybe a TV somewhere…

There’s been talk of plans to renovate Baxter and transform it into something more usable. But at the moment it remains just plans, and in the meantime we have nowhere to go. It would be nice to be able to walk around campus at night and feel that there were places one could go. I’d even love to have a snack bar open 24/7 for when the late-night munchies hit and later hours at the music building for evening practices, but those seem to be more wants than necessities. The necessities are some reasonable (equipped) spaces to hang out and some study space.

Oh, did I mention study space? I tend to prefer working in my room, but if you don’t prefer your room, too bad. The open buildings on campus after midnight are not conducive to studying. And they all close at nine or ten o’clock on the weekends…I must say that it doesn’t seem like Williams is going out of its way to provide accessible study space for everyone. Response to the idea of a 24/7 library has been nixed, thus leaving us in the lurch once again. Normally I’d suggest that students do their evening studying in the homes of those who should be providing us with more space, but I’m not really sure where to point the finger.

Dean Murphy has been vocally supportive of finding student spaces, which is good, but an action is worth ten thousand words (or ten pictures, at the current exchange rate.) Hopefully, things will start moving along and some 24-hour study spaces and recreation areas will appear on campus before I graduate. Or maybe Santa will bring some for Christmas. In the meantime, I’ll be wandering sadly through the night in search of a space that doesn’t exist.

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