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A student walks into a study room in Huntsman Hall. The rooms are set up for group work, though reserving them for individual work is a common, but disallowed, practice.[Allie Abrams-Downey/The Daily Pennsylvanian]

When Wharton students are taught the principles of supply and demand and survival of the fittest in a dog-eat-dog world, they assume that these rules apply to the arena of economics, the stock market or the business deals they learn about in their textbooks.

But this week, these doctrines are being applied not to the abstract realm of finance theory, but rather to the much more relevant sphere of group study rooms in Hunstman Hall.

Though always popular study areas, due to the onslaught of undergraduate midterms and MBA interviews this week, the demand for these valuable yet elusive study areas has skyrocketed, forcing students to camp out on floors, cram into classrooms and congregate in cafes in an effort to find alternative spaces.

"Around midterms and finals, studying in Huntsman can get vicious," Wharton freshman Leanna Resseguie said. "Late at night, it's not always so bad, but if you want to do group study in a room during the afternoon, and you haven't reserved it at least a day in advance, you can pretty much forget it."

Although the problem is not evident for day-to-day studying, according to administrators, these difficulties are a product of the fact that study space in Huntsman is extremely limited.

"Around exam time, we try to open up more classrooms for studying, and I sometimes even have offered students space in my office to accommodate them," Administrative Assistant and study room "policer" Tifphani Fernandes said. "The truth is, there simply isn't enough study space -- especially group study rooms -- in Huntsman."

To even attempt to reserve one of these coveted rooms, students must go through Wharton's online database, known as "MySPIKE," which includes everything from career services to curricula to the study room reservation forms.

By electronically regulating the site, administrators can successfully ensure that only Wharton students are able to reserve the rooms. The system also guarantees that students may make only one reservation at a time, which is capped at a maximum of 90 minutes.

"It's a pretty efficient system," Wharton freshman Vivek Kumar said. "MySPIKE makes it really easy and tries to regulate the system so everyone gets a chance."

However, despite these administrative attempts at regulation, during exam times, Wharton students employ a number of techniques which enable them to tactfully evade the rules.

In the most commonly used strategy, students working in groups will pool their resources, each reserving the same room for 90 minutes, enabling the group to monopolize one room for hours.

"People definitely block the same room back to back to back," MBA student Justin Berman said. "I've been in study groups where, using this method, we have reserved rooms for as long as eight hours straight."

In another one of the system's most commonly exploited loopholes, students will reserve a room and have their friends reserve the same room for consecutive time slots, even if they will not be using it themselves.

"People definitely ask their friends who aren't even in Huntsman to book rooms for them," Berman said. "Everyone I know does it."

Although intended for group study only, because the Internet system cannot distinguish between individuals and groups, the third most frequent abuse of the rules is the reserving of these rooms for individual study. Because they are among the only places available to Wharton students for group work, this abuse is the most controversial and can often even result in intense verbal conflicts.

"My biggest pet peeve is when there's only one person in a group study room at peak times and you have a group of kids that need an area to study in," Kumar said. "It's really annoying because there are so many other places for people to study alone on campus."

To combat this problem, the administration has authorized a system in which large groups may remove individuals from rooms.

"Groups with multiple people always have precedence over individuals," Fernandes said. "We will frequently ask the single person to leave for a group because we can always find space for a single person to study."

However, exacerbated by the stress of exam periods, the potential for conflict inherent in this policy can often explode into heated debate.

"People can get really obnoxious about kicking other people out," Resseguie said. "I've definitely seen really tense situations where it looked like people might break out into a fistfight."

Even with this strengthened enforcement of the group study room system, during weeks such as these, students frequently find themselves out of luck.

"Because it's so crowded and people are so tense, studying in Huntsman around midterms can get really unpleasant," Resseguie said. "Sometimes I try to just stay away altogether."

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