What if University Commons Open 24/7?

Students can visit, work and collaborate in the UC most days of the year, but they almost always need to leave at midnight.

Though the UC is open for two extra hours during finals week to allow students extra time to study and prepare, that begs the question: would it help students be even more prepared for their classes if the UC had longer hours all the time?

“I’ve had a few friends talk about how they wished that the UC was open 24/7 or even if there was swipe access after a certain hour,” Jessica Carey, a Millikin senior, said. “Many students get swipe access to academic buildings such as Tabor or PMC, so why shouldn’t we implement the same idea with the UC?  Give students swipe access to the UC and it will give them the option for another place to study on campus.”

There are a lot of people that use the UC as their study place. However, students are rather widespread when talking about who lives both on and off-campus.

“We have a larger commuter campus, so that means they’re not on campus most of the time and a lot of upperclassmen students live in the Woods, so they have their own kitchens and the ability to cook their own food whenever they want.” Candice Germany, Assistant Director of the University Commons, said. These students, therefore, would have less use for the cafeteria.

Though extended hours might seem like a good idea since the UC is rather comfortable, keeping it open later has obstacles. It comes down to one major issue: money.

Everyone has to work off of a budget and that includes the UC. To keep it open for 24 hours there is going to have to be more staff and the training. Even if the UC did have swipe access, security would still have to check on the building.  It’d be hard to keep the building open for 24 hours with a specific budget.

“In my experience based on other libraries trying out 24 hours and trying out extended hours in our old building is that it generally isn’t used as much as you would think that it would be used,” Professor Dr. Matthew Olsen said. “To have extended hours means more staffing so we have to find people to work and extra security concerns to worry about. Though people have said that they want that, the usage doesn’t usually bear that out. Now there are times that are different than that, Finals, an average week of being open 24 hours sounds good in theory but it’s expensive and it wouldn’t be used as much.”

Whether the UC is open for 24 hours or not won’t matter if nobody utilizes the extended hours.

“We do head counts in certain spaces at certain times of the day,” Germany said. “The study spaces are one of the spaces that we count, so the fourth floor and the second floor, the OCLP, and the collaboration rooms that are open for study when they’re not being used for meetings. We’re actually finding that people aren’t in those spaces at about 11, they leave to go home and sleep.”

Many students go home, but some students might spend more time studying in the UC if they could come late. Those habits, however, may not be the ones to encourage.

“I came from the mindset that I went to bed because you can only study so much,” Germany said. “You’re not going to do well if you’re studying through the night, if we look at the way people are treating their bodies when it comes to studying during finals week, overstressing themselves out, pushing themselves too hard to the point where they’re not eating, not sleeping, and only looking at a book is not healthy. I personally don’t want to encourage that.”

24/7 UC hours might be better for late workers and those who need to use UC resources, but  it doesn’t seem that the University Commons will have its hours changed any time soon.