Huntsman Hall’s Group Study Rooms, campus’ most coveted study spaces for many at Penn, have been a hot-button issue for as long as we can remember. Last week, The Daily Pennsylvanian published an article about a group advocating for GSR-booking privileges to be extended to all students in Wharton classes, and the debate was once again revived: Is the current policy discriminatory? Should all students at Penn be able to book Huntsman GSRs? Is it a Wharton-exclusive commodity already facing far greater demand than can be supplied?
It is unreasonable that Huntsman GSRs are unavailable to students in other schools taking Wharton classes. However, we would like to tell the many students in an uproar over the injustice of “good study spaces” only being available to Wharton students to kindly calm down.
Yes, many of the study spaces on campus are sorely lacking in quality (we’re looking at you, Van Pelt). And yes, the University should make an effort to increase the number of study locations open past midnight, especially since — let’s face it — that’s when many of us do most of our studying anyway.
But the truth of the matter is that there are actually far more places to study on-campus than many students believe: the Education Commons at Franklin Field has huge rooms with whiteboards, the Biomedical Library is closer to campus and has rooms that can be booked for up to three hours at a time and many college houses also contain study rooms, both large and small, as well lounges on every floor that are always open.
Unlike these other communal study areas, Wharton GSRs are usually sponsored by Wharton alumni who want their money to go into resources specifically for Wharton classes. Say what you will about Wharton elitism, but as long as donations are given for the specific purpose of supporting Wharton classes, it is unreasonable to expect GSRs to be available to all students — especially when it’s already so difficult to book one.
That being said, students across all home schools should be able to book GSRs if they are taking Wharton classes, just as students taking fine arts classes can use fine arts resources regardless of their major. This isn’t particularly revolutionary — it’s just keeping with what the purpose of GSRs is to begin with: helping students with group projects for Wharton classes.
This is especially relevant for students in classes such as Marketing 101, who need to do a project that requires software only preinstalled on GSR computers. Not only is it illogical to prevent students in other schools who need this software from being able to access it, but it is also highly inconvenient for Wharton students in these groups to have to book the GSRs every single time their group needs one because their College, Nursing or Engineering peers cannot do so.
Finally, there is a simple step we’d like to see students and administrators take in order to help alleviate the the ridiculous gap between GSR supply and demand. It plainly states on the GSR booking website that “Use of the rooms is reserved for groups only. Single individuals using a room (even with a reservation) will be asked to leave if a group wishes to use the room.” However, we’ve seen a significant lack of actual follow-through regarding this policy: Oftentimes, GSRs are filled with individual students working, and no one is willing to say or do anything about it.
Students should obviously be respectful of this policy, but we should also take it upon ourselves to make sure it’s enforced and not be afraid to kick someone out of a GSR if they aren’t using it for the right purpose.
There are shortcomings in the study spaces on campus that affect all of us — we’ve all, at some point, deliberated hopelessly with a group of friends over where to study. This has led to extremely vocal supporters and detractors and a great deal of criticism concerning the current GSR booking system — some founded, some unfounded.
As the University takes these suggestions into account and reevaluates some of its current policies, we hope it keeps in mind not only the flaws that affect all students but also the original purpose of GSRs.
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