A 24-hour study area is due to open this week in the new student centre. The facility is being trialled over the coming weeks, with a view to sourcing a more permanent location if there proves to be sufficient demand.
The area is located adjacent to the swimming pool entrance in the new student centre which has up until now been used to register, is set to hold “roughly 40 to 50” students at a time. UCD Students’ Union Education Officer Shane Comer stated that he would “love to have a permanent location for it, but a much larger one, similar to the Berkley Lecky Ussher in Trinity. This will be used on a trial basis and we’ll see if it goes well.”
The facility, which is still dealing with “logistical issues”, was due to open at the start of term, but the University were reluctant to put it in place, partly because the new student centre was intended to bring all non-academic activities to one end of campus, and all academic activity to the other. This would bring a study area into the recreational area. Comer commented that he hopes to amend this if the trial period proves successful: “The ultimate aim is to see plans for redevelopment of the library and Newman area, to see some sort of 24 hour access facility in that area. I’ll be looking for a permanent facility, but that’s obviously extremely long term.”
Security is also an issue, with no supervisory staff being provided by the Students’ Union for the space. Comer says they are working “to create, with campus services and Pulse security, a sort of monitoring service. They’ll pass it every so often to make sure nothing is going on.” The Union, however, will be responsible for all liabilities, with Comer stating: “There’s a cost to the SU in terms of liability, so if there is damages caused but we are under insurance.”
Comer believes that students who do not currently have access to the library because they have no paid their fees or are waiting on a grant, will be able to use the facilities, however this is still under negotiation. “That’s something I’m currently trying to nail down with the student centre management but I don’t see that being an issue.”
He is aware that the facility will be not be needed all day and says when it comes to reviewing the usage of the area, he will be “hammering home that you can’t use stats from say, 9 in the morning to 9 in the evening, because we do have libraries on campus that do open during those hours.”
He expects that the facility will become overcrowded as it approaches exam time, and says to cope with that he will “look to do something similar to what my predecessor did and open up the Blue Room or the Astra Hall” to cater for the surplus.