Hazel Wing Now Accessible 24/7, Security Still Closing Coulter Classrooms at 6 p.m. Despite Petition
BY JIM MALVEN
Beginning today, students will be able to access the Hazel Wing of Reeves Library, including its computer labs and classrooms, 24 hours a day. Previously, Hazel opened no earlier than 6:30 a.m. and closed no later than 2 a.m.
The decision to extend Hazel’s hours was announced to students in a Nov. 15 email from Interim Vice President and Dean of Student Life Dan Haslag. Haslag said that Hazel’s exterior doors will be locked at certain times but that students will be able to enter the building by using a schoolwide door code, which he provided in the email, and that security will be “making frequent rounds during the early morning hours to ensure [students’] safety.”
“I’m a proponent for making sure our students are safe within facilities, so if they know the code to get in and that door locks behind them, I certainly feel better, knowing that nobody outside of our campus community could just walk into that facility,” Haslag told The Columns.
According to Haslag, the change in hours was inspired by student requests to have a 24-hour study zone on campus. He said that Hazel’s punch-code locks and surveillance cameras make it an ideal location for extended hours of studying.
“With a lot of institutions, you’ll find that the college library tends to be the facility that is open more hours for such activity, for studying,” he said.
Earlier Classroom Closures and the Petition
Meanwhile, as Hazel becomes accessible 24/7, Security continues to lock classrooms in Coulter Science Center at 6 p.m., four hours earlier than in the first two months of the semester and six hours earlier than in previous years. The 6 p.m. closures started last month and have carried into the end of the semester, despite nearly 400 members of the Westminster community signing a petition to keep CSC’s classrooms open until midnight.
The decision to close classrooms at 6 p.m. was made by Haslag, Director of Campus Security Geoff Crosby and the Coulter Science Committee, which consists of a group of department chairs whose departments are located in CSC, as well as Building Manager Colleen Donnelly. According to CSC Committee Chair Dr. Erin Martin, the groups reached an agreement in August, but Security did not start enforcing the policy until the end of October, after it was approved by the college.
Currently, regular classrooms are open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and the building is accessible from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and from noon to 10 p.m. on Sunday. Students may use lab rooms 103, 110, 114 and 121 until 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday with instructor permission. Students must tell their professors in advance if they want to use these rooms after hours, so their name can be posted outside the lab door by the professor and security can be notified. For all other labs, the same procedure must be followed, and the student must be accompanied by one additional person.
Martin said that the committee decided to limit CSC’s hours in response to concerns over student safety and building security.
“We have, for a while now, been running into issues with the building being open itself,” she stated. “There’ve been quite a few thefts out of the classrooms the past several years.”
“There’ve been quite a few thefts out of the classrooms the past several years.” -CSC Committee Chair Dr. Erin Martin
Martin said that these thefts include laptops and “at least three” projectors.
She added that students and professors have found trash left behind, desks rearranged, chalkboards written on with dry erase markers, and keyboards, mice and monitors disconnected.
“This is a place of learning, and then you come back for your class at 8:00 in the morning, and the space was not as it was left, and there was no way to enforce any sort of accountability for that,” Martin said. “We’ve had some concerns with the building just in terms of safety and security, and for the moment, we felt like this was something that was necessary in order to protect the building.”
However, not all students were receptive to the policy.
Phi Delta Theta Scholarship Chairman Nathan Wilson, ’18, said that he was frustrated by the limited hours because he could no longer hold evening study halls in classrooms in CSC.
“It sucks for students because people have to adapt to it, and [CSC is] just a good place to work,” Wilson said. “I don’t like seeing people have their way of doing their studies being hampered without them knowing it.”
Wilson added that he was also displeased by the lack of communication to students.
“There was just a huge lack of knowledge, so it was like, ‘Okay, now they’re starting to close the rooms and nobody knows why,’ and that was the most frustrating part …,” he said.
As a result of student frustration, SGA senators decided in an Oct. 25 meeting to draft a petition to keep CSC classrooms open until midnight. By signing the petition, each signer also pledged to maintain the upkeep of CSC and acknowledged that he or she would be held liable for violations. Senators held signings in the JCI and the Dining Hall from Oct. 26 to Oct. 29 and from Nov. 1 to Nov. 4, collecting 377 signatures overall, including several from faculty and staff members.
“The hope was to convince Dr. Martin that the majority of the student [body] had come together to show their support in treating the building like a commodity instead of a building to play in,” said SGA President Zach Stafford, ’17, who lobbied extensively for the petition.
“CSC is a unique building that provides many students with the educational and privacy atmosphere that is crucial to receiving a higher grade at Westminster,” Stafford said. “To see it close earlier is something of a concern to me.”
“To see [CSC classrooms] close earlier is something of a concern to me.” -SGA President Zach Stafford
On Nov. 4, Stafford, Haslag, Martin and Senior Vice President and Dean of Faculty Dr. Carolyn Perry met to discuss the earlier closures, clarify classrooms’ exact hours of operations and figure out how to communicate the policy change to students and accommodate students’ academic needs.
Campus Study Spaces
With CSC classrooms being locked at 6 p.m., many students who used them for nighttime studying have chosen Hazel as their alternative.
“There’s really no other option on this campus, except for Hazel,” Wilson said, adding that he used to study in CSC classrooms once or twice a week and proctor study halls there at least once a week. “I mean, you can use the library, but the thing about the library with study halls is that you can’t disturb other people because it’s the library. People want to be very quiet, and again, part of that is the environment of what makes study halls useful for some people – you’re with just people you know; you can crack a joke every now and then and nobody gets mad at you; you can chill. It feels very relaxing, whereas in the library it feels very focused.”
“There’s really no other option [for studying] on this campus, except for Hazel” -Phi Delta Theta Scholarship Chairman Nathan Wilson
Wilson said that he has since been able to consistently use a room in Hazel for study halls but that he still prefers to study and proctor in CSC.
“The two main reasons everyone liked CSC was because of the privacy and the [white] boards …,” he said. “There’s no better way to study for a major test than being able to write on a massive board and just lay it out, for a lot of people.”
However, Hazel has some whiteboards in its rooms, and librarians are now allowing students to check out smaller boards, along with a marker and eraser. According to Director of Library Services Angela Grogan, the library has eight boards total available to be checked out: two 22-inch by 15-inch boards, three 14-inch by 14-inch boards and three eight-inch by nine-inch boards, along with a 38-inch by 28-inch portable easel board. Students may use a board for up to four hours at a time, but Grogan said that the she is willing to adjust the loan period if needed.
In addition, Grogan said that there are several whiteboards in labs and classrooms, which have been there for several years. She said that there are large wall whiteboards in Hazel rooms 112 (two boards), 101 (three), 102 (three), 311 (one), 301 (one) and 302 (one); one mounted whiteboard with bulletin board space in Library rooms 303 and 304 and one portable easel board, which could be left in Hazel 302 when it is not reserved. She added that there are two spaces on the third floor of the Hazel hallway where medium-sized whiteboards could “easily be added.”
Wilson also said that he still worries about not being able to access classrooms in Hazel and not having enough room in the classrooms.
“[Study halls in Hazel] work for the moment, but it’s hard to accommodate more than a few people,” he said.
Juan Manzo, ’17, also voiced concern over lack of space in Hazel’s limited space in comparison to CSC.
“It is important to remember that we have more than 800 students, and Hazel is not adequate to support even one-fith of those students,” he said
On Hazel’s potential size issue, Haslag pointed out that although most classrooms in CSC close at 6 p.m., the building itself stays open until 10 p.m. five days a week, and Reeves stays open until midnight five days a week.
Although most classrooms in CSC close at 6 p.m., the building itself stays open until 10 p.m. five days a week.
“There are still nooks and areas within [CSC] that students can study in until 10,” he said.
Martin added: “This building is itself a science center, and if you look at the security policies and procedures for science centers at other institutions around the country, we are, even in this policy, very lax, compared to other institutions. Most science centers lock their doors when classes are over, and those classroom doors aren’t even open in between classes.”
“This building is itself a science center, and if you look at the security policies and procedures for science centers at other institutions around the country, we are, even in this policy, very lax …” -Erin Martin
Grogan said that she and other librarians added space to Reeves during the summer, by “weeding and shifting” the reference collection in order to remove a double-sided range of shelving and rearranging shelving to expand space for the leisure reading collection; removing one of the service desks on the main floor to create space for magazines and periodicals and casual seating; adjusting shelving in the second reference room and the placement of the printer to create three additional study spaces; removing four double-sided ranges of books on both sides of 1 West and adding new casual seating furniture to the main Hazel hallway.
Staff and Student Plans for the Future
Haslag said that although the current goal is to make better use of the space available in Hazel and Reeves, he has had architects visit the college and give unique layout concepts for the building.
“It’s just now a matter of funding, but it’s certainly something that’s on our radar,” he said.
“It’s certainly something that’s on our radar.” -Haslag on expanding Reeves Library
Regardless of whether the college decides to expand the building, Martin, Haslag and Grogan all say that they are open to student feedback, and Grogan said that she has placed a suggestion box on the library’s circulation desk.
SGA President-Elect Carson Pope, ’18, said: “Dean Dan has been great to work with through this process. He’s been very open to student input and willing to take suggestions, such as what might make Hazel better.”
At the same time, Pope, who will take over as president in December, says that he plans to work toward having classrooms’ hours re-extended.
“I know it’s an uphill battle, but I plan to continue to fight for the needs of the students,” he said. “I still don’t fully agree with the current hours of CSC, but I am pleased with the progress on the Hazel Wing of the library. I plan on continuing that progress and continuing to be a voice for the student body. I will always be receptive to feedback and suggestions on how to continuing to improve the Hazel wing.”
“I know it’s an uphill battle, but I plan to continue to fight for the needs of students.” -SGA President-Elect Carson Pope on trying to re-extend classrooms’ hours
Haslag said that he has looked into acquiring access code locks similar to those on the exterior doors of Hazel for CSC classrooms, so that they can be used for late-night studying but is more focused on improving Reeves and Hazel.
“We’ve got a longer-term vision for the use of our library, in additional ways,” he said. “We do want to look in the future to creating more individual study space, either group conference space or group presentation space … A library is sort of an anchor building on a college campus, so we want to try to fulfill the needs that today’s student needs in that library. We’re taking our baby steps now in terms of what we can do to really model that facility into one that meets today’s needs.”