In order to meet students’ demands for more practice rooms for musicians, Barnard’s Student Government Association has opened up a number of new spaces in the quad for students to use.
“It has been apparent for quite some time that Barnard lacked music space—it was clear that something had to be done,” Aliza Hassine, BC ’14 and junior class president, said.
The task force in charge of space availability updated the music rooms’ resources, moving a piano from Elliot Hall to Altschul Atrium this semester, in addition to upgrading the rooms in the basement of the quad that were previously not frequently used.
The hours that the rooms are available to students were also extended. Administrators are looking to organize the usage of the new spaces through sign-up sheets that have been posted in the practice rooms, which will be used primarily by music majors and others who take lessons.
Gail Beltrone, vice president for campus services, said that administrators are making “every effort to communicate the availability of those spaces so students are well aware of their options” as they continue to search for more spaces that could be used as practice rooms.
“Barnard students love music, so the goal is to find a way where we can all share and take part in music on campus, whether it be by just finding a practice space or public spaces to practice,” Hassine said.
SGA has taken a number of steps to ensure that music students have adequate resources to meet their needs. So far, student feedback has driven SGA’s recommendations.
“The requests made by Juilliard students, I believe, were just as much a motivating factor as the requests made by Barnard students who play instruments and practice,” Hassine said.
While SGA representatives have heard some positive reactions from students so far, some said that more work lies ahead.
“It’s a step in the right direction—I guess we’ll have to see the full extent,” music major Isabella Livorni, BC ’15, said. “Extending hours is one thing, and adding extra space is another.”
Barnard’s push for more music rooms is the first step in its initiative to free up more study space of all kinds.
SGA’s task force for student space, which includes SGA President JungHee Hyun, BC ’13, and SGA Vice President Julia Kennedy, BC ’13, is working to meet student requests for more study space.
After receiving positive feedback on the extended hours in the Diana Center last semester, SGA will now keep select rooms in the Diana and Barnard Hall open for students to reserve starting on Feb. 4.
“It all went very efficiently,” Leah Metcalf, BC ’14 and SGA representative for information and technology, said about extending the Diana Center’s hours last semester. “Administrators were quick-moving and receptive to accommodating us.”
Extending the building’s hours was fairly easy, according to Metcalf, because the Diana Center already had its own security guards. She added that SGA is targeting rooms that can accommodate large numbers of students and are less frequently used for events.
SGA is considering the space in Hewitt Hall, but Metcalf said it is not yet clear whether Hewitt could work logistically.
Karishma Habbu, CC ’13 and president of Columbia College Student Council, spearheaded the effort to open John Jay Dining Hall as a study space last semester, and said there was an eventual increase in students using the room.
“There’s so much effort to try to find a way to understand how space is used, how it’s being used, how it could be used,” she said.
But in light of wanting to accommodate as many students as possible, SGA remains concerned about the quality of the spaces available.
“We didn’t calculate the amount of people we’re shooting for, though we’re definitely keeping track of the numbers to see how many people are coming,” Metcalf said. “What we were aiming for was more of a quality of experience.”
Due to the loss of the floor study lounges in the Quad, SGA has been working to recreate the quiet, casual lounge environment that students requested.
“Student feedback has been really helpful since they’re the ones using the spaces—overall, it’s been really positive,” Metcalf said. “What convinces me that we’ll move forward on this is the amount of support we’ve had. Study space is at the forefront right now.”