StFX students grow frustrated with the lack of on campus study space as midterms loom.
At StFX many will notice the lineups and packed library rooms that take over the campus during the finals and midterm seasons. With most exams back to back and often in the same day, many students report feeling a continuous cycle of eat, sleep, study, repeat during this time. It is reasonable to assume that university students would expect this kind of cycle when it comes to exams, but what many StFX students don’t expect to deal with is a lack of studying space on campus.
It is a well-known fact around campus that in order to get a table in the library, the largest studying facility on campus, during exam season, students must arrive before 7 am to line up. This line is often in the cold as students wait for the doors to open at 8 am in both December and early April. When the doors do open, it becomes a free-for-all, with students racing to find an ideal table, large enough for their impending friends who will join them later in the day. By 8:15, most, if not all tables in the library are taken with students or reserved with books. Although this schedule may seem suitable for the early risers who enjoy getting their studying done early in the day, night owl students who find it easier to study into the wee hours of the night and sleep into the afternoon, are at a complete loss for finding a table in the library.
For those who cannot, or have early morning jobs or other commitments, are left to scourer the other buildings on campus for a space. Students report walking around campus for up to an hour in order to find a table, severely impacting studying time. The Physical Science Centre, Education Building, and the Rankin School for Nursing offer limited study space, and students not in those specific programs, especially first years, often feel uncomfortable going there. The Wellspring is a very treasured area of study for students who know about it; however, it too has limited space and hours of use.
The Schwartz School of Business is another area of frustration for students. Though it has a few breakout rooms on each floor, these too are often filled as soon as the building opens, and kept reserved with books until the building closes, despite the fact if students are present or not. One student, who chooses to remain anonymous, states that this reserving behavior occurs throughout the year, regardless of the season. In addition, there are many board rooms throughout Schwartz that are not accessible to students, despite being vacant the majority of the time. The staff lounge is open to students after 5 pm during exams, but this is not an option during midterms. Empty classrooms are also locked after hours, preventing students from utilizing this space as well. The student lounge on the 4 floor lacks surface area for books and computers, and the lights frequently time out while students are still inside.
A recent debate has arisen regarding study space on campus due to a Students' Union decision to convert the 4 floor of the Student Union Building into a student lounge to promote non-drinking activities on campus. While it was previously known to be a quieter study space as compared to 3 floor, the 4 floor SUB now only has 3 tables instead of 6. Two of the tables were moved down to 3 floor, while the other was moved over to the student council area on 4 floor. With the Maritime Bus desk, nurse’s office, frequent group meetings and general hubbub on the third floor, many find it too loud for studying and do not believe that moving the two tables down to 3 has any benefit for students. The table that has since been relocated to the council area also poses issues, another anonymous student shares, as students feel this area is reserved for members of the “SU club” and is often filled with loud conversation between council members. An alternative given for studying on 4 floor is to study in the 2 floor café. However, this is often closed and locked at 4 pm when the café closes, despite its hours being said to reflect the hours of the SUB as a whole.
For those students lucky enough to find a place to study, they do face new issues when it comes to comfort. The number one complaint students have about study spaces is the temperature: it is too cold. It is not unheard of to see student wrapped in blankets, wearing hats, or using heating pads in order to keep warm in the SUB or library. Furthermore, many areas are too dark, such as the 2nd floor SUB, or have ineffective lighting that causes strained eyes. Another frequent complaint is the lack of outlets for computer chargers. In a generation where most work is done on laptops, students are frustrated that proximity to plugs is too far from tables, or that the plugs fail to work properly. It is understood that many buildings on campus were not built during the technological age, but power bars or extension cords to maximize outlet use would be greatly appreciated by many students.
A similar frustration on campus is the lack of food resources during study hours. Though Mini Moe’s is close to the library and open until 10 or 11 pm, the café in the SUB, which offers a variety of more options, closes at 4 pm, when many students haven’t even begun their studying for the evening. The KMC café closes at 7 pm during the week, and 4 pm on the weekends. The recently opened MSB café closes at 2:30 pm, and isn’t open on weekends. In addition, the SUB café also closes before exams are finished during both the December and April exam periods. With a lack of available food options on campus during the evening, prime study time especially during the midterm season when classes are still going, has left students stressed about where to have a study snack or meal, which can lead to unhealthy eating habits during testing periods.
When approaching the Students' Union about these issues, many students do not feel heard. The common response is that the Mulroney Institute will have more areas for studying; however, that does not help solve the current issue as this building is not slated to open for at least another year. With midterms happening now and exams only a few months away, students feel they should be able to focus on the material instead of where or if they can find a spot to study.