Somewhere to study

A formal proposal to investigate study space concerns is moving forward

Jessica Klymchuk, News Editor Ω

Student representatives on the student engagement committee are putting forth a proposal to assess whether there is enough study space on campus and if any is being under-utilized. Jessica Klymchuk/The Omega

Student representatives on the student engagement committee are putting forth a proposal to assess whether there is enough study space on campus and if any is being under-utilized. Jessica Klymchuk/The Omega

Trying to find a quiet place to work? Getting booted out of the library at 9 p.m.? The student caucus has heard your complaints and is addressing concerns about a lack of study space on campus.

Student representatives on the student engagement committee, a sub-committee of the Senate, are currently putting together a proposal that suggests a study be conducted to determine how much study space is available on campus, if any is being underutilized and what changes students would like to see.

Janice Yeung and Chirag Sehgal’s proposal asks the institutional planning and analysis committee to conduct a report on available study space, which will determine if student concerns being raised in the student caucus about a lack of space are valid. They want to know how much space is available, the level of privacy the space has, whether it’s suited for group work or individual study and when it is available. Yeung and Sehgal are also proposing that a survey be distributed to students to establish what perceptions they have about study space, whether group or individual space is in demand and what the preferable hours are.

“With this data we can better inform the students and find out what they want to do,” Yeung said.

Although Yeung said this research will help in developing plans for the future, they aren’t jumping to conclusions. The first step is getting the proposal put forward at the next student engagement committee meeting at the end of February.

Yeung said they have received support from other members of the committee, including Craig Engleson and Harold Richins. Dean of students Christine Adam said she couldn’t comment on the proposal because she hasn’t yet seen it, but she did point out that the Old Main computer labs are open 24/7 Monday through Saturday. The House of Learning is accessible until midnight.

Sabina Donnelly, TRUSU’s graduate students’ collective rep, said she often works late into the night on labs and working on campus is preferable. The graduate study space, however, is located in the library, which closes at 9 p.m.

Elected in October, Donnelly is the first graduate students’ rep since the collective was created last year. At her first collective meeting, one of the concerns raised by the 20 attendees was the use of the graduate students’ study area in the library. The space has a capacity for 100 students, and with 200 current graduate students, the space is a hot commodity. TRU’s graduate programs are set to grow in the future, meaning more students will be vying for the space in coming years. Donnelly said grad students are finding that the open area is suitable for either group work or individual study – not both. Although there is suitable desk space for either, there is no way to keep one side quiet.

“The general complaint was that it was just distracting, the noise transfer,” she said, adding that some students have reserved cubicles in the research office as an alternative.

Donnelly suggested that the middle wall be soundproofed, but the graduate students office has plans to re-vamp the space altogether and is inviting grad students to provide input. Forums on Feb. 11 and 12 and previous consultations have nurtured the same concerns about the space as Donnelly heard at her collective meeting.

Although preliminary plans show the renovated space as a graduate commons, or graduate hub, there’s still a lack of individual workspace, Donnelly said. However, semi-soundproof, movable walls are being considered, which would allow for groups to contain their work and noise. There are no current plans for expansion.

“I feel, for the collective part, an advocacy role is appropriate, making sure that the issues surrounding this area are understood,” she said. “So, there aren’t enough seats for masters students and there is a need for both group and individual study space.”

“I just want to make sure that a balance is struck so no one is being alienated and, for the time being, that their needs are being met.”