Penn has repurposed rooms in Houston Hall to serve as group study rooms open to all students.
In response to student feedback, Houston Hall room 313 will join ARCH rooms 205, 211, and 311 as GSRs available for students to use under Penn University Life. Students are able to book these rooms through Penn LibCal, and possibly Penn Mobile in the near future.
"The need for space on campus is at an all-time premium," Houston Hall Associate Director of Operations, University Life Space, and Events Management Patrick Faulk said.
Faulk added that Houston Hall and ARCH were ideal places to add GSRs on campus.
“The building of Houston Hall already has many areas for students to sit and study, and this makes the spaces more intimate,” Faulk said.
College first-year Alina Zaidi agreed with Faulk that Houston's centralized location makes it useful for students, specifically those in the College.
“I think that installing GSRs in Houston is so helpful — its location is ideal, and I go there all the time anyway to eat. College students need better study spaces,” Zaidi said.
GSRs have long been a point of contention for students. GSRs in select buildings like the Academic Research Building and Huntsman Hall — the latter having the most GSRs — can only be booked by Wharton students.
Penn has recently installed new GSRs throughout campus, including those at the Holman Biotech Commons, which was renovated in 2021.
Students said that although they look forward to using these GSRs, they hope Penn will add school-specific GSRs similar to those offered to Wharton students.
Along these lines, College first-year Harish Balasubramanian said that Penn should add study rooms to engineering buildings, such as Levine Hall, similar to how Wharton students have access to Huntsman.
In 2016, Huntsman Hall installed $10,000 worth of technology into all of their GSRs, including TVs, remote controls, and whiteboards. A year later, it became possible for students to book GSRs through Penn Mobile.
Faulk told the Daily Pennsylvanian that these would not be the only GSRs to be added to the growing list of available study spaces for students. He said that staff must first “identify spaces that are available or could be available for students to study,” and take into consideration student feedback on the GSRs.
Faulk added that it would be difficult to add more study spaces in Houston Hall given its use for events and as a student center, but he cited Williams Plaza and ARCH as potential places for more GSR expansion.