The Quest For a Study Space

Sunday afternoons are homework hours here at Hotchkiss. People escape their rooms to work alone in the tranquility of the library or in groups in classrooms. This is great in terms of finding space to think and work. But recently, those groups wishing to study in classrooms have been inconvenienced by impolite behavior.

While I was looking for a quiet classroom to work in with my friends, I saw multiple classrooms taken up by people working alone. Not only is it impolite to take up an entire classroom for yourself, it is quite awkward when a group is looking for space to work collaboratively. While impolite, this behavior is less concerning than the inconsiderate practice of leaving a backpack on a desk in an attempt to reserve an entire classroom for the day. I saw a verbal disagreement arise when one person felt entitled to a classroom because they left their things there hours before; upon returning, they were shocked to see other people working as a group in that space.

Due to this inconsiderate behavior, large study groups often must resort to public spaces unsuitable for quiet studying, such as the snack bar. It is inconvenient for groups to have to work in spaces designed for individual studying while multiple classrooms are “occupied” by one person at a table that can seat ten. I understand people’s desire to work outside their own room, but we should all attempt to practice better etiquette when it comes to shared community spaces.

There seems to be a shortage of study spaces during multiple hours of the day. The library is open until 5:00 P.M on Sundays; after those hours, you can find people writing papers in the snack bar or student center. Those areas are typically filled by students who have already finished their work and have moved to areas designed for socializing and relaxing. The study rooms in the TLC are all often taken. Clubs often occupy classrooms during the evening hours. Finally, for those wishing to study in their dorm rooms, the atmosphere of the dorm can be a detriment to productivity. An ideal solution to this problem would be to allow the lower levels of the library to remain open all day. While this solution may be more difficult to implement due to staffing concerns, I believe that Hotchkiss students should be able to prove that they can be responsible in the lower levels of the library even without complete supervision.

If we all hold each other accountable for our actions in a shared space, then we should have no problem using the lower level of the library without incident. Another suggestion might be to have minimum group size requirements for classroom usage during periods of high traffic such as Sunday evenings. A minimum of three people per room might make it easier for people to find a space to study and encourage collaboration.  With this solution, we could ensure that people can utilize group study spaces effectively.

These proposals are by no means perfect. There are certainly broader issues of respect that play into this current study space dilemma. However, until we identify an effective solution, people will have to continue to get creative with where they study.