Late-night cramming impossible on campus

There are more than 50,000 students who attend the University every year for the sole purpose of learning. While the University has many nationally ranked programs, departments and facilities to assist in this quest, one crucial component is inadequate — the availability of study space. In terms of facilities, providing decent study spaces should be a priority second only to providing decent classroom spaces. The University should address this before beginning any other initiatives which are of less importance to learning.
While the University has one of the largest library systems of any school in the nation, the study spaces at the libraries are woefully inadequate for two important reasons. The first is that the libraries close at midnight. The demands of classes are not allayed so early. Many students study until much later and, on any given night, there are dozens of students who study until the morning. The second is that the libraries prohibit drinks like coffee and soda in areas exclusively intended for studying. Access to caffeine is made irrelevant when the libraries close at midnight, but for many students it is essential in the later hours of the night.
Coffman Union is a facility that attempts to address some of these inadequacies, but it too fails. Coffman actually closes an hour earlier than the libraries, at 11 p.m., and although it provides an atmosphere more understanding of the needs of students, offering a variety of vending machines, the lighting is terrible and the air is musty.
The alternatives to University facilities also have devastating flaws. Coffee shops close too early and are smoke-filled, expensive and have sticky, dirty tables. Many students cannot study in their rooms because roommates have different schedules. And few students have the integrity to study at places like Hard Times Cafe, the seedy West Bank cafe which attracts the after-hours crowd.
The ideal study space would address all these inadequacies in addition to offering several amenities. It would be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There would be a variety of spaces, some having couches for reading, large tables for groups to spread out and smaller rooms for those with more serene study preferences. There would be a variety of vending machines and possibly even a coffee counter. Like the libraries, there would be a monitor or two to enforce orderliness and cleanliness. The commons area at the McGrath Library could be used as a model, as it incorporates many of these features, although students must leave by 2 a.m.
The University could partially alleviate the inadequacies of current study spaces if a more profound change proved impractical. Just one library could be open for 24 hours, or even just until 2 a.m. The Coffman renovation could include an ideal 24-hour study space. And perhaps one of the other buildings currently slated for renovations could allocate space for studying.
University President Mark Yudof’s administration must revise the University’s priorities. Instead of spending money on initiatives less important to the University’s role as educator, it should address the current needs which are paramount to providing an adequate learning environment. With finals week approaching, students will need a place to pull all-nighters.