In honor of the abundance of caution Stony Brook had on Thursday, my roommate and I woke up late and spent our morning sharing breakfast and playing flash games in East Side Dining. At noon, he walked back to the room to get started on a few essays and I wandered through East Side looking for somewhere relatively quiet to charge both my phone and laptop and join a Skype conference call. Even on a snow day, the only real place where I could find outlets and quiet was the Kosher Dining Area.
Look at the Central and North Reading Rooms in the library. Far beyond the nice new decor, there are enough outlets to charge full tables of laptops and phones. In the library Starbucks there are even outlets running through the tables for ease of access. It too has an ambiance conducive to writing essays, working on homework and collaborating with friends (source: where do you think I’m writing this article?). Clearly, those in charge of renovating and remodeling buildings on campus understand the need for more study areas with better amenities for the more than 25,000 students this university holds.
But East and West Side Dining don’t have room to get real studying done. You might be able to snag one of those tables near an outlet, or work at a table for as long as your computer battery lasts, but all around you are the boisterous goings-on of a proper dining hall. With all the space afforded to eat in East Side, it’s a wonder no room was made for studying students who want to grab a snack and hit their homework. Imagine how busy a CoLA or three would be, especially as midterm season rolls around. Imagine how thankful students would be if there were those UFO-shaped power strips with outlets galore.
Beyond the simple benefit of more places accessible to study, having learning areas in East or West would de-cramp the library and other main study areas around campus. It would be a shorter walk from the dorms, and it would mean that students don’t need to awkwardly pace around the North Reading Room until someone gives up their seat.
One of my favorite aspects of East and West Side Dining is the amount of natural light that shines through the windows. The study room in my building, James College, is below ground, window-less and generally feels like the place of my caffeine-addled nightmares. There are scientific studies that find natural light beneficial to sleeping patterns, improved performance and calmer minds. This makes the bright East and West Side Dining buildings scientifically advantageous places to study.
It’s possible I’m a bit late writing about this. West was completed around my freshman year. East was completed this winter. The administration isn’t going to go back and renovate these two new buildings, especially when there are new developments like the Union going on. But what I’m proposing should be relatively inexpensive. Pick a room or section of each building and wire a few more outlets and put up a sign asking for relative silence.
This midterm cycle, let’s have our meals and study too.