Thursday, August 22

Lack of study spaces at UCLA imposes unnecessary stress on students

UCLA had money to build an academic center for student-athletes. Yet, this campus is lacking a central study space that offers academic services and resources to the general population. (Mia Kayser/Daily Bruin staff)

UCLA had money to build an academic center for student-athletes. Yet, this campus is lacking a central study space that offers academic services and resources to the general population. (Mia Kayser/Daily Bruin staff)

There’s truly no worse feeling than mustering up enough energy to carry your bag filled with books to a study spot on campus, only to find hundreds of other students had the same idea.

It’s all too common for students to feel angered by the lack of spaces to complete their work on campus or the Hill. The Hill’s study spaces and libraries on campus can often become crowded, making it almost impossible for students to find a spot to study in peace – and have some personal space.

The university’s communal computers are mostly limited to libraries, and tutoring is elusive for students who need it most. Existing spaces are also not easily accessible for students who live off campus.

These issues are yet to be addressed by UCLA, but that hasn’t stopped it from recently announcing the construction of a new academic center for student-athletes. Mo Ostin, a UCLA alumnus, donated $15 million and UCLA has pledged to fundraise $20 million more to allow UCLA Athletics to proceed with this project. The new center will be built adjacent to the J.D. Morgan Center, though UCLA has consistently claimed space on campus is limited and new building additions are not feasible.

There exists no one central location where students have adequate space to study and access much-needed academic services. Larger areas – such as The Study at Hedrick and the campus’ various libraries – are not enough to satisfy students’ needs either, because they are rendered useless to students who haven’t camped out for a spot. These locations also fail to offer academic services that students could benefit from.

A one-stop shop that provides easy access to academic support would satisfy students’ needs in a way that study rooms the size of a classic triple can’t.

Katherine Alvarado, a UCLA spokesperson, said UCLA has not even considered the benefits of a new academic center for students.

UCLA clearly has the means to at least examine the clear benefits a space like this could provide, as demonstrated by its fervent commitment to soliciting donations to supplement the new academic center for student-athletes.

After all, students have been talking about lack of campus study spaces for quite some time.

Mizna Akbar, a second-year human biology and society student, said the limited number of study spaces on the Hill is a real problem.

“There’s definitely a lack of study space and resources for students here. It’s already very crowded everywhere,” Akbar said.

The lack of support for students is baffling. Undergraduates should not have to choose between studying in a loud dorm room or walking late at night to an overcrowded study spot where it takes them the same amount of time to find a seat as it does to study for their upcoming exam. Lack of a central space can cause students to waste much-needed time and energy walking long distances across campus to find study spaces – sometimes in obscure campus discussion rooms – or to access academic services and technology.

David Martinez, a second-year civil engineering student, said UCLA is doing a good job by opening Bruin Plate and Feast at Rieber late at night for study space, but the addition of a student academic center would help spread out the student population and alleviate the problem of overcrowding.

“If they were to add another space or create a new facility that would diversify the population everywhere so that there is less people in one area, that means you wouldn’t have to go all the way to Powell to get a spot,” he said.

Martinez is right: Adding ad hoc study spaces here and there isn’t enough to fully serve the growing student body’s need for a place to study. While UCLA has opened up outdoor study spaces near Renée and David Kaplan Hall and Powell Library, these are temporary solutions to the larger problem of lack of adequate space on campus for students to complete their work. Just ask the students trying to find a place to study during this cold and rainy winter.

The highest ranked public university shouldn’t settle for mediocrity in creating necessary services and spaces when there is clearly room for improvement. When students have inadequate space to study, it creates unnecessary stress, which is reflected in their academic performance. A center for Bruins that provides more individual and group study spaces would give students another valuable resource that would solve the problem of overcrowding on campus.

There are certainly difficulties that accompany building a new facility, such as gathering the funds needed to build it and determining an adequate location. But these considerations certainly weren’t an issue when it came to the student-athletes’ new center. They shouldn’t be for a study space for all students, either.

For students to succeed at a world-class institution like UCLA, they need all the support they can get.

What they don’t need is a mandatory scavenger hunt for an empty desk when they have midterms coming up.

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Opinion columnist

Raychawdhuri is an Opinion columnist.

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  • Xaviera Flores Schmied

    This breaks my heart because as a librarian, these are the services we fight for the adminstration to recognize. I fight for my students to succeed and be students. No one has time for that kind of stress. All are welcome at my library, the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center. You don’t have to be Chicano or be studying Chicano Studies to use our space. Same goes for the other libraries under the Institute of American Culture: American Indian Studies Center Library, Asian American Studies Center Library, Bunche Center for African American Studies Library and ours. Our space is small and humble, but our doors are open and we provide what we can with what we have.

    Xaviera Flores
    Librarian and Archivist
    Haines Hall 144