Forum

Exclusive areas are inconvenient for undergraduates

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Picture this: it's Sunday morning, you have an essay or problem set due Monday, and you're looking to finish it up. You go to the Tepper Quad, the brand new, beautifully lit building on campus with new tables and study rooms. You arrive around 11:00 a.m. and notice that most of the tables are full. After searching for over 20 minutes, you sit down at a table on the third floor with a great view of Oakland. You pull out your laptop and notice you have only 12 percent battery. You had the foresight to bring your charger, but you look around and realize there are no outlets in sight. A set of three stand-up outlets has been monopolized by a group of students a few tables over, and they are too far away for your charger to reach. So, you decide to look for yet another table. You finally find a table on the fourth floor in a more secluded area with an outlet.

After finishing up your assignment, you realize the professor has requested it in print. You send it through the Carnegie Mellon printing system and consult the printing map to find the nearest printer. You write the room numbers in Tepper by which the printers are located in your Notes app and begin your search. Walking up to the first location, you realize the printer is located in the Master's Lounge. You go up a floor to another location and note that that printer is in the Ph.D. lounge. Both spaces are locked, and your ID does not grant you access. You are lucky though, and as a Ph.D. candidate exits the space you sneak in after them before the door shuts. You finally print your assignment amidst puzzled onlookers.

You return to the secluded spot on the fourth floor, which is no longer secluded. Dozens of people in business casual are meeting in the space, and someone informs you that you cannot work there as it is reserved. You collect your belongings and dejectedly move again. It is past noon now. Realizing how crowded Hunt and Sorrells probably are, you walk back to your room to complete your work.

If you have read this and think "that sounds familiar to me," you are not alone. Carnegie Mellon has a serious problem with the volume of study space on campus, and the brand new Tepper Quad is alarmingly devoid of it for how much square footage the building has. Especially for students in the Dietrich College of Humanities & Social Sciences or the Mellon College of Science, dedicated study space is severely limited and the University has shown little effort in addressing this issue.

Portions of the Tepper Quad and the upper floors of Gates should not be locked to students who are not in those programs. Spaces like the Master's Lounge in Tepper have common study areas which are notoriously limited around campus, and restricting students from accessing that space only exacerbates the problem. In Gates, saying that only certain undergraduates can access particular spaces is egregious. Given that tuition is the same for all undergraduates, these spaces should be open to all undergraduates so that any student in Carnegie Mellon can study in common spaces around campus other than places like chemistry labs or spaces that are restricted for common sense reasons.

I also call on the administration to prioritize building more dedicated study spaces. Even in a brand new building like Tepper, there is limited space and there are very few outlets. Given that most college students use laptops or other devices in their day-to-day lives, outlets should be readily available in all spaces on campus where there are open tables or seating.