Alternative spaces open up to help students follow COVID-19 guidelines
written by robbie dzier-zanowski & joseph cotton, guest writer and campus news editor
The COVID-19 operation team opened several alternative study spaces on campus to accommodate social distancing.
Throughout the summer, The COVID-19 Task Force on campus met to discuss ways of ensuring that a return to campus was both healthy and academically successful. The team wanted to find ways to maintain a real college experience by continuing to offer study spaces throughout campus, as well as to open some new spaces.
Chris Marshall, the Gallagher Student Center (GSC) Director and a member of the COVID-19 Campus Operation Team, said that one of the team’s main focuses was to assess the new capacity of the campus study spaces with the newly adapted social distancing practices.
“The university quickly found that most campus spaces, including classrooms, event spaces and common areas, were going to be operating below 50 percent capacity, in some cases closer to 30 percent,” Marshall said.
With those new numbers and the worry of not enough study space lingering, the team started exploring the possibility of opening alternative spaces to ensure the continued academic success of Xavier students.
“Ultimately, we landed on the Cintas Center Concourse, the Cintas Banquet Rooms, the Hub Rec Center Basketball Courts and adding additional space on the 2nd floor of the McDonald Library by relocating some books,”Marshall said.
By offering these spaces, the team set out to ensure each space had a specific atmosphere. “The Cintas Center Concourse was made to be a ‘lively, student center type space,’the Cintas Banquet rooms would be a quiet study space, the Rec Center basketball courts would be a single study space and the Library would be a learning space,” Marshall said.
Throughout the entire planning process, the team was unsure of what the demand would be for study spaces. “Through the first few weeks, we have found most of the repurposed spaces to be used fairly little. The Cintas Center Concourse and Banquet Rooms have seen a slight uptick recently, but the Rec Center Basketball Courts are still seldom used at this point,” Marshall said.
Despite Marshall’s comments, however, Sophomore engineering physics major Andrew Druzina stated that he appreciates the alternative space in the Cintas concourse since it is so quiet.
“I usually come here when I really need to get a lot of work done. It’s cool that we have access to get into the cintas center. ” Druzina said. “I plug in headphones and get my grind on.”
When asked what he would do if the space wasn’t offered, Druzina went on to say that he would go back to trying to find a table in the Conaton Learning Commons.
Some of the study spaces also have front desk workers to help students locate things on campus and hello keep the space clean and tidy.
Junior Philosophy, Politics and the Public major Matt Dixon is one of the front desk workers who works at the help desk just past the doors of the Cintas concourse.
“I’ve worked here 3 times and I like it a lot. It’s quiet and anyone can come here and get work done without many distractions,” Dixon said. “Every hour I do rounds just to make sure nothing needs to be cleaned and ensure that nothing is out of order.”
Dixon noted that when he works the 4-8 shift, he usually see’s around eight people come in to study. at peak hours the Cintas concourse sees 30-50 people.
One of the alternative spaces the team investigated were tents to cover outdoor spaces, which in the end, the team chose not to use . They ended up pursuing different options and used what campus already had to offer.
The good news for students is that the team plans to continue to maintain the availability of the alternative study spaces, as they believe that as word spreads, the spaces will begin to be used more.
Marshall said, “Some spaces like the GSC have seen steady traffic, so we just want to make sure all students are aware of the alternative spaces as traditional spaces like the GSC reach capacity and demand increases.”
Visit xavier.edu/return-to-campus for updates on the availability of the new alternative study spaces.