Beginning in early February, O’Neill Library and the seating area in Hillside Café will extend its hours to give students more space for studying or meetings.
Hillside Café will remain open until midnight on Monday through Thursday nights, while O’Neill’s first floor will be open until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
On a typical week, O’Neill opens at 9 a.m. on Sunday and remains open until 10 p.m. on Friday, and operates from 9 a.m to 10 p.m on Saturday.. Hillside is usually open 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. from Monday to Thursday, and closes at 4 p.m. on Friday.
Last April, O’Neill began to gauge student demand for extended weekend hours. The trial weekends showed that around 60 students would use the library’s open space between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m., and that number would trickle down to about five students after 2 a.m.
According to Scott Britton, associate University librarian for instruction, access, and user engagement, the initiative to extend library hours began with a column in The Heights that called for a safe study space on campus during weekends when dorms can get noisy.
The column sparked the Undergraduate Government of Boston College’s Campus Improvements Committee to begin looking into where students could go to study on weekends. When the issue came to Britton’s attention, he reached out to Student Affairs. This began conversations about opening up Eagle’s Nest, Hillside, and O’Neill’s first floor.
“The library is a place where people were studying anyways, so when we would close at 10 o’clock, we were moving people out of the building, why not just move them downstairs?” Britton said. “It made sense, and the only real issue was securing the rest of the building.”
After the past trial periods, it was clear that there is student demand for a workspace during weekends, and funding was secured to open up the first floor of O’Neill. While there will be no library staff workers available, a security guard will be present to ensure that no one strays from the first floor of the building, and the elevators will be locked.
Britton says that depending on student feedback, and the number of students that use the extended hours starting on Feb. 3, and conversations of opening up the library longer could take place. Britton encourages students to contact him, or University Librarian Thomas Wall, with any feedback and suggestions.
Hillside’s extended hours, “Hillside After Dark,” will begin Feb. 1 as a partnership between Dining Services, UGBC, and Student Affairs. Hillside After Dark will serve as a space for students to socialize, relax, and study during the week.
“We’re trying to make sure that students have the kind of space that they need.”
—Barbara Jones, the vice president of student affairs
Hillside After Dark was, in part, the result of ongoing conversations to build a student center at BC. This past fall, Russell Simons, UGBC president and MCAS ’17, and Meredith McCaffrey, UGBC executive vice president and MCAS ’17, pushed the necessity of more student social spaces on campus during meetings with University President Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J. During this conversation, Hillside was mentioned as a possible temporary solution to the ongoing search for a space open to students to relax and socialize, according to Vice President for Student Affair Barbara Jones.
“The idea is to have a space that isn’t your residence hall, and somewhere you can go in the evening and just meet up with friends, or have a small study group, or have an executive meeting for a student organization, or whatever you want to use it for,” Jones said.
According to Jones, the space and extended hours are not intended for club programming, and are instead intended to work toward the goal of creating more social and gathering spaces on campus.
“We don’t really know when a student center will be built, so we’re taking a look at how students are using the space on campus.” Jones said. “We’re trying to make sure that students have the kind of space that they need.”
Student centers on campuses provide gathering spaces, meeting space, food, and a variety of other things. Building a student center at BC has been an ongoing conversation since at least 1995, when BC went as far as drawing up plans for a new building. During the fall semester, UGBC’s Student Assembly (SA) unanimously passed a resolution that affirmed a continuing effort in establishing a student center.
“We’re trying to gauge the best way to meet the needs of the students on campus, and that’s the concern that Russell and Meredith have,” said Jones.
Jones said that the student center would be located where the Flynn Recreation Complex is currently, as the University plans to open a new athletics recreation center where Edmond’s Hall used to stand. Until then, however, Student Affairs will continue gauging student feedback when looking at other possible spaces to open up to students.
“I hope that students will find it useful to have a hangout space,” Jones said.
Featured Image by Savanna Kiefer / Senior Staff