Campus / News / March 12, 2008

Books, nails hit in study lounge

Despite its reputation as a 24-hour quiet study area, it has been anything but silent in the Carl Sandburg lounge. Located centrally in Seymour, the lounge has long been a favorite location for students seeking quiet refuge in the midst of finals.

But a new sound was added recently to the lounge’s familiar din of rustling of papers and pencils — the sounds of construction. Expansion of the Campus Life office into the lounge began two weeks ago in the eastern corner of the lounge.

“The plan is to add two new rooms to our offices,” said Assistant Director of Campus Life Jimmy Stewart. “We’ll also be adding a new position.”

But not all students are satisfied with the change. Some students are uneasy with the process by which the expansion came about. Though it was announced in Student Senate, the plan was not passed through student governance bodies, and was instead approved by senior staff members.

Particularly concerned are students who regularly utilize the study lounge. Freshman Dami Olotu, one of the lounge’s frequent users, is among a growing body of concerned students who see the lounge expansion as an invasion of space.

“It’s been taken over now,” said Olotu, whose preferred study space in the eastern corner was taken up by the construction. “This is finals and we need the space. It would have made more sense to do it over spring break.”

“The people in the lounge really like that space,” said Associate Dean of Students Craig Southern, who initially devised the expansion. Southern initially hoped to begin the expansion in the summer, but Facilities Services has a number of capital projects planned for that time already. “We had to work within their schedules.”

Several plans were changed before construction began in the lounge. These included several that would reduce expansion into the study lounge, such as using cubicle dividers instead of drywall to separate the offices. This was later scrapped over privacy issues.

When construction completes, two new offices will be accessible through the south door in the Campus Life Office, and will provide space for Student Life Coordinator Jen Snider and for a new officer.

The new position, Assistant Director of Campus Life for Operations, is slated to be filled next July, and will provide a link between the Campus Life Office and Facilities Services.

“This person will be able to liaison with Facilities to hopefully increase response time and increase communication between our offices. For instance, they’ll be able to get to a dorm, and investigate when we’re trying to figure out who broke something, which will help a lot with pinpointing damage charges,” said Stewart.

The new officer will also manage RAs and share the burden of Campus Life Office duties with other staff members.

Said Stewart, “The growing size of our school makes this reform something that’s been needed for a long time.”

Construction is slated to finish at the beginning of spring term, after which Southern hopes to make several changes to the lounge.

“I want to work with the people who use that lounge to make it comfortable for them,” said Southern.

Several informal plans are already being considered, including several to include larger worktables and new art. Since many students have voiced their complaints about the construction, Southern hopes to involve students in future changes to the lounge.

“I would be very happy to get anybody’s feedback on those plans,” said Southern.

Mark Muñoz

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