A pilot program to keep Diana Center classrooms unlocked for late-night group study space is beginning today, a Barnard administrator said at Monday night’s Student Government Association meeting.
Vice President for Campus Services Gail Beltrone announced the pilot program, which follows a pilot program last spring that extended the hours of Wollman Library. The library returned to its normal hours this semester after an average of nine students took advantage of the extended hours.
“Our library as it stands is for individual studying,” Aliza Hassine, BC ’14 and junior class president, said. “That’s really why students have been looking for—more group project study spaces.”
Starting today and continuing for the rest of the semester, rooms LL103 and LL104 in the Diana will remain unlocked until 2 a.m., and students will use sign-in sheets to reserve the rooms.
“We need a space that is devoted for groups so you can talk and communicate and it’s comfortable,” Elizabeth Dalchand, BC ’15, said, adding that the reading room on the third floor of the Diana is a popular study space for students working on their own.
Beltrone is also working on opening rooms on the fourth floor of Barnard Hall and the Diana’s second floor café. She’s in talks with Aramark, Barnard’s food provider, to let students study in Hewitt Dining Hall when it’s not in use.
Eventually, Beltrone said, she’d like to assemble a “cheat sheet” of student study spaces.
“That’s the missing link. Not everyone is aware of all the places they can study,” she said.
Barnard’s student life office has been working to make the Diana more of a hangout space this semester, posting signs that say, “This is not a study zone,” encouraging students to talk to each other. Leah Metcalf, BC ’14 and SGA’s representative for information and technology, said that the new group study spaces don’t undermine that goal because they support Student Life’s effort to “make space more responsive to community need.”
The Diana “should not just be for studying at the exclusion of fun spaces. It is multiple things,” Metcalf said. “The question that leaves us with is how do we integrate both of those things in ways that do not favor one over the other, or making students feel they can’t do either effectively.”
The new study spaces are part of a concerted effort to do more to cater the Diana Center to students’ needs. Beltrone said she is also working on creating music practice rooms in the Diana, adding electrical outlets throughout the building, and putting more student artwork on the walls.
“We’re looking at how should it be used—how do the occupants actually want to use it?” she said. “Those two things have to marry.”
She’s also considering having the red walls painted a lighter color.
“The problem with heavily saturated colors is it’s very difficult to maintain,” Beltrone said, noting that touching up the paint is easier when the walls are a paler, less saturated color. The board of trustees will discuss a potential color change next week.
Beltrone is also working on improving the lighting in the Diana Event Oval, adding a paper towel dispenser in the Diana bathroom, and experimenting with ways to replace the white paint on the handrails.
“They’re not very apparent changes, but they are changes that will really help students use the building more productively,” Hassine said.