Student Senate discusses adding study spaces

Spaces on campus could provide seating and desks to accomodate larger incoming classes

THIS FILE PHOTO PICTURES members of the Senate during a meeting. Senate discussed logistic problems with larger class sizes this week.

Grand Marshal Paul Ilori ’17 welcomed everyone to Monday’s Halloween Student Senate meeting, which opened with committee reports.

Facilities and Services Committee chairperson Austin Miller ’17 told the Senate that the annual Light Walk is rescheduled for November 14, apologizing for the late and likely cold date. He added that, unlike in previous years, members of Rensselaer’s Facilities and Services and the Department of Public Safety would be joining senators on the walk.

The main discussion of the evening was a presentation by Nancy Bush ’19, presenting on informal learning spaces. Citing the Classes of 2019 and 2020 as some of the largest ever, there is a worry that common study spaces such as the Rensselaer Union and Folsom Library do not have the capacity to support the larger class sizes.

The proposal is a letter to the administration regarding suggested “informal learning spaces,” or places that could be converted into useful study spaces. Vice President for Student Life Dr. Frank E. Ross III prompted the letter, asking for suggested spaces if the administration were to increase the usable study space.

The three suggested areas in the letter are the Great Hall in the Darrin Communications Center, certain areas of the Jonsson Engineering Center, and the entrance hall to Sage Laboratories.

Bush mentioned that the old tables and chairs from the McNeil Room, which was refurbished over the summer, could be used. Alternatively, the administration could purchase new tables and chairs for the mentioned spaces.

Graduate student Benjamin Walcott expressed concern about the foot traffic in the locations. He noted that in the transition time between classes, those areas can become very busy, and even more difficult to move through with students studying.

Bush argued that many students already sit on the ground in the area, and that providing tables would not cause much of an issue.

Thomas Alapatt ’17 added that there is underutilized space in the ’87 Gym and that the hours of the DCC should be extended to increase use.

In a 22-0-1 vote, the Senate approved the informal learning spaces letter. With little else to discuss for the evening, the Senate meeting was closed to discuss internal finances.