EDITORIAL: Quiet in the…residence hall?


Anyone who has lived in a college dormitory, fraternity or sorority house knows that by the time Friday night rolls around, things get pretty hectic. Students run up and down the halls, music booms from at least one room on any given floor and groups gather in the lounges to watch movies or play video games. The stress of the school week builds up until that moment of revitalized, energetic liberation.

The fun of living in a lively, communal environment ends pretty quickly, though, if students still have work to complete as the school week draws to an end. Most students lead busy lives, and sometimes their coursework needs to fit into odd hours. Students who are involved in multiple organizations and enrolled in full course loads have their work cut out for them, and that occasionally entails trading a night of fun for a night of studying.

When your room is ripe with distractions, where can you go on a Friday or Saturday night to study?

One would think that the library would be the perfect solution, but both Linderman and E.W. Fairchild Martindale Library close by 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Universities that are close to Lehigh’s size of approximately 5,000 undergraduate students have similar library hours. For instance, on Saturdays, all of Duke University’s libraries close by 5 p.m., all of Yale University’s libraries close by 10 p.m., all of the University of Chicago’s libraries close by 11 p.m., and all of Tufts University’s libraries close by midnight.

Lehigh and other renowned institutions demand rigorous academic performances of their students. But, as students, reaching that standard can be hard when extracurricular activities and classes claim our days and loud free-for-alls compete with our ability to focus at night.

There is nothing wrong with student residences bubbling with activity. College is supposed to be a life experience, and that means that the social aspect is just as important as the academic one. Students should make friends, socialize and be part of different groups. They should have time to relax, because it’s not healthy to constantly study without the balance of enjoying life, as well.

College also marks an age of quasi-independence for students, considering many of them are still financially dependent on their parents but function as adults otherwise. A significant part of adulthood is choice evaluation and learning how to manage and prioritize obligations. If a student has a certain amount of work that needs to be finished, it is the student’s responsibility to get that work done.

Technically, students can study anywhere there’s a table and light, so they should be able to find alternative environments to study if the libraries are closed. But this does not take into account that students have a broad range of study habits.

There are the impulsive studiers, who randomly feel a burst of motivation and are the most productive when they take advantage of that unearthed drive to work. Along the same line, most students have experienced eureka moments, where they try to solve a problem or work on a project, but hit a stumbling block. Then, out of nowhere, they come up with an idea and need to flow with it. It’s hard to concentrate on that elusive solution with friends’ voices in the background, so a run to the library to pursue that train of thought is fruitful.

Other students are night owls, in contrast to the early birds. By creating more flexible hours, these students could work to the best of their ability. It could also deter overcrowding, as these students would then use the library at a time that favors their skills. Therefore, fewer students would utilize the library space at once.

Additionally, some students need absolute silence to study effectively, while others prefer background noise. For students who prefer the quiet, finding a peaceful study spot after 10 p.m. on a Friday or Saturday night proves challenging. Many quiet buildings on campus, besides the libraries, also close early over the weekend.

Admittedly, E.W. Fairchild Martindale Library remains open 24/7 during 4 o’clock exams. According to the library calendar, this duration of increased hours spans from Sept. 28-Oct. 2, Oct. 28-30 and Nov. 2-5. These lengthened hours are greatly appreciated, but not all course schedules are consistent with that timetable. Students face consequential exams and substantial papers throughout the semester, not just during those designated periods of time.

Bruce Taggart, the Vice Provost for Library and Technology Services at Lehigh University, says that the library has monitored student usage of the libraries to determine the hours. “On weekends, there is a much lower use of both libraries, and opening later and closing early are based on usage data,” Taggart explained.

Clearly the libraries are not anywhere near as busy on weekend nights compared to the rest of the week, and keeping either library open 24/7 would be a costly undertaking for the librarians, work-study students and custodial staff. Keeping that in mind, there should be a compromise between the two extremes of limited and complete weekend library access. Whether it’s in the form of slightly extended hours or even a smaller designated study space aside from the library with weekend access, Lehigh students would benefit from having that resource available to them.

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