As I count down the days until winter break, only one thing stands in my way: finals. But this year, in lieu of those nerve-racking blue book exams, I will have papers and take-home exams. All the reading and writing I will have to do confirms that I will have to spend long hours holed up in some study haven, surrounded by wrappers, used coffee cups and empty water bottles … if I can even find that late-night haven.
I know I’m not alone in anticipating such long hours. There are many other night owls like me on this campus, and 24-hour locations like Huntsman Hall and the Rosengarten Reserve Room in Van Pelt Library won’t be able to contain all of us. Not only are other late-night options very limited, but they’re also not open late enough for birds of a feather flocking together. After evening meetings, group projects and homework, the average Penn student might not even start studying by 2 a.m.
So, my proposal is twofold: Penn needs to open up more late-night study locations and extend their hours until 4 a.m.
The cry for more late-night study locations has been made before, and the Undergraduate Assembly and Business Services responded in October by renovating the 1920 Commons basement area into a late-night study space, aptly called The Late Night. Their intention, according to UA President and College senior Matt Amalfitano, was “not building new spaces, but looking at spaces that are not being utilized across campus.”
Amalfitano reported that a consistent number of students have been using the space, open Sunday through Thursday until 2 a.m., in a variety of ways. “What you find is a very diverse mix of students, student groups and assorted meetings going on there,” he said, “which is exactly the idea — a multipurpose space open late at night.”
While this effort makes creative and effective use of an underutilized space, there should be a greater availability of late-night study spaces dedicated solely to studying. The Late Night has the potential to become a hangout for loud crowds, and even if they filter out by 11 p.m. or so, that only leaves a handful of hours to really buckle down and study.
So, my instinct is to turn to Penn libraries — quiet academic sanctuaries in their own right. After all, Harvard University’s Lamont Library is open 24 hours a day, and Columbia University has set aside 24-hour rooms in its Butler Library.
“The question of a 24/7 library has come up before,” Penn Libraries Director of Public Services Marjorie Hassen said. She said that the University has also considered the idea of keeping only the first and second floors of Van Pelt open around the clock.
However, security costs and safety considerations have always dominated the conversations. “When the building is left populated, there’s a real concern about the security of the building,” she explained. She also said that there would be a difficulty in keeping students — or potential intruders — from going beyond designated floors.
Because these security issues are not insignificant and there are definitely other costs to take into account, a 24-hour library might not be the best solution to our wandering woes. (Knowing that we can stay in one location forever might even promote more procrastination and energy drink consumption.) An extended time like 4 a.m. would work much better, especially since it seems that studying always takes two more hours than anticipated.
With so many logistical issues to contemplate and student expectations to meet, the question of late-night study accommodations will always be somewhat inconclusive. But just increasing the number of study spaces or extending the hours of those already available would provide productive environments for night owls who want to excel just as much as their early-bird counterparts.
Sarah Ryu is a College junior from Harrington Park, N.J. Her e-mail address is ryu@theDP.com Ryu’s Clues appears on alternate Tuesdays.Comments powered by Disqus
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