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The Living Room After Hours: Look, but Don't Touch

November 2, 2011

Arjun Kapur
The Living Room After Hours: Look, but Don't Touch

Last week Resident Assistants were informed at their weekly meeting that the completed Living Room, the infamous "glass cube" outside the Kravis Center, would only be open during business hours from 8:00am to 5:00pm. This decision came across as a shock to the RA's who, along with the rest of the student body, were expecting the structure to be opened for round-the-clock use as a study area.

Senior members of the faculty wanted the living room to be accessible at anytime of the day or night, but ultimately, someone decided to only open the structure while it could be kept under surveillance. Dean Jefferson Huang, Vice President for Student Affairs, explains, "The two reasons for phasing into it are campus safety and we want to see how the room’s personality evolves. The administration wants to see what kind of personality the living room takes on. We want to start with fewer hours and work our way up. There are four cameras inside and four cameras outside the building, which are currently recording but not streaming live to campus safety. Once we get the cameras working, we will be able to monitor the living room, as it cost us millions and we would not like to see it being abused. But stay tuned. We will watch this, we’ll get the mechanical things fixed, and we will make adjustments to the hours accordingly.”

Currently, the structure is locked. A mechanical problem with the hinges and an issue with the ventilation prevent the doors from closing properly.   Dean Huang also said, "first and foremost we want to get the doors opened as there are mechanical problems, which are stopping it from opening.

Contrary to popular belief, Dean Huang points out that the school has never had more study spaces than those  on campus today. Dean Huang says, "other than the two study lounges in Auen and Fawcett, we have never had more spaces that the ones we have opened this semester. We have the Crocker Reading room, we have two rooms outside the Center for Civic Engagement, and we will get the Living Room opened as soon as we can fix the doors. In some ways, I reject the primary premise that we are getting back to where we were, but rather we are going beyond."

However, Greg Zahner '12, the RA of Wohlford, feels the school is limiting study spaces by locking most facilities of the Kravis Center outside of  business hours. He cannot even provide visitors with a treat of what the Kravis Center is like during campus tours on Saturday because the elevators are locked  along with most of the rooms. He says, "the school is being overprotective of the Kravis Center and students are not going to trash it after all the effort and money has gone into building it." He feels that curtailing the hours of living room does not help the situation as students were looking forward to being able to study there at any hour of the day, as there is already a shortage of group study space on campus. He suggests an open classroom policy for Robert's North and South where students could swipe in once classes have ended for the day. He adds, "this will save the school a lot of money, as they will not have to extend library hours, they could make use of the existing structures on campus. From a safety standpoint, the school could hire a monitor, like the monitor who sits in the reading room, who would be in charge of the living room and the bottom classrooms on Roberts' North and South. Students could use the classrooms for group work and could take advantage of the white boards and the projectors and could turn the Kravis center side of campus into a study hub at night."

The RA's hope that the administration will make Kravis Center facilities, including the living room, more available to students in the future. Meanwhile, Dean Huang understands the students' outcry for extended hours in different facilities, but points out that it's not a question of the college being overprotective of CMC's new crown jewel, but rather an effort on the part of the college to be smart and phase the new buildings into use.

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