Editorial: The Commons should extend their hours

By The Beacon | March 1, 2017 7:59pm

Daytime is the only time you can hangout at The Commons.

Media Credit: Sam Keeler / The Beacon

With midterms approaching, complaints from students about The Commons’ 7:30 p.m. closure on weeknights have bubbled to the surface in recent weeks. Students say they’re less concerned with a lack of food options - the issue is a lack of space on campus to hang out in the evenings and study.

When the lights are dimmed and students are ushered out of The Commons, they are left with few choices about where to go. The Pilot House remains open and serving food until midnight on weeknights, but seating is often hard to find. And the amount of open seating is halved when the bar area is closed off to those under 21 at 8 p.m., even though the majority of students who live on campus, and therefore need a place to spend time in the evenings away from their dorms, don’t meet this age requirement.

Book bags in hand, some Pilots retreat to St. Mary’s and others to the library. Many students find themselves wondering where they should go to hangout or study, and end up heading back to their dorms much earlier than they would like to.

For future semester’s midterms, The Beacon advocates for the Commons to extend its hours. The availability of more space in the evening would promote social and academic flourishing for Pilots who live on and off campus. It would also restore the quiet, studious nature of the library, which often sounds more like a social club than a place where one can feasibly get work done without noise-cancelling headphones.

Students with pent-up energy from long days in the classroom often find themselves filing into the library at 7:35 p.m., espresso in hand, not necessarily seeking a place to do homework, but a place to catch up with friends. Unfortunately, many students find that this is making the library a less productive place for those who need to use for it for studying.

The library, while centrally located and open late, simply cannot be the catch-all for students looking to stay out past 7:30 p.m.

This is perhaps most pressing for students who reside on campus, and don’t have a good place to collaboratively study or hangout after dinner. College is about being social, not spending long hours cooped up in a dorm room. But it also affects students who live off campus and those who commute from home. Many students do most of their socializing and studying on campus, and limited space presents a multifaceted issue for them.

To keep The Commons open later would require paying someone to supervise it because some cooking and kitchen areas cannot be locked up, according to Manager of Bon Appetit Kirk Mustain. But keeping just the quiet side of The Commons open late would provide students with a safe place to study, collaborate and socialize, and it would relieve the stress that is currently being put on the library.

Whether it be keeping The Commons open later or dedicating a new space, the University needs to understand the situation that students are in, and prioritize the development of a solution. Bettering this situation will benefit the studies, social lives and overall well-being of Pilots.