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Monday, October 02, 2023 — Houston, TX

New study spots opened up on campus

Illustrated by Chloe Xu

By Bonnie Zhao     2/1/22 10:30pm

Rice expanded its study space options since Jan. 18, opening up selective rooms in Rayzor Hall, Duncan Hall and Kraft Hall on a reservation basis.

Rayzor Hall rooms 106, 113 and 123, Duncan Hall room 1046 and Kraft Hall rooms 103 and 104 will be accessible for students. The Rayzor Hall lobbies will continue to be open until 1:45 a.m. via swipe access.

Clemente Rodriguez, chief of the Rice University Police Department, said that Rayzor and Duncan Hall rooms can be reserved by checking out a key from Fondren library from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday to Thursday.

“For [Rayzor and Duncan], you can check the key out at Fondren library because the Fondren staff is there after hours. They’re been very gracious in helping us with this project,” Rodriguez said. “[Kraft Hall] has [its own] online reservation system that students can go online and reserve the space at, so you don’t have to check out a key, and the hours are a little more expanded.”

Lila Frenkel, Duncan College president, said that she advocated for more study spots after seeing a lot of traditional study spaces being much more crowded than in the past when she returned to campus last fall.

“As a senior, I [also felt like] I had exhausted many study spots on campus and was looking for new ones,” Frenkel wrote in an email to the Thresher. “With the increase in the student population size over the next few years, it seemed like an issue that was worth resolving.”

Frenkel said that the college presidents met with Dean of Undergraduate Students Bridget Gorman and presented the idea of expanding study spots.

“I sent her a more formal proposal in writing with the request to specifically open Kraft Hall, Rayzor Hall and Duncan Hall. These study spaces spanned different areas on campus, and already have lounges or nooks that make them conducive to study,” Frenkel wrote. “Dean Gorman then presented our proposal to the provost and the deans of each school (engineering, social sciences, etc.).”

According to Gorman, the proposal was reviewed by Provost Reginald DesRoches, Vice President for Administraion Kevin Kirby, Rodriguez and herself.

“We started discussing this last semester. It took a bit longer than expected because of some scheduling complications, but it proceeded rather quickly once conversations on their request happened,” Gorman said.

According to Rodriguez, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, only Rayzor Hall allowed students to study there after hours.

“So this time around, we looked at expanding it to make some options available for students that are more convenient on the north side of campus, which is why we selected Duncan Hall,” Rodriguez said. “We also are using Kraft Hall for people in the furthest south side of the campus residential area.”

Rodriguez said that even though COVID-19 was not a huge factor in their decision, the new study spots can help with the administration’s effort to increase social-distancing.

“Adding [these] additional spaces, it allows for large groups to maybe break up a little bit and study in separate spaces, and in a way that people feel more comfortable,” Rodriguez said. “Most of the [Fondren study rooms] are pretty small. And these [new] spaces are large enough that people can safely study in a group together.”

Rodriguez said that opening up more study spots on campus is a possibility, but the safety and security of students are his biggest priorities.

“You want to be careful about having too many buildings open. [If] somebody needed help, we might not be able to know that because there’s too many spots to be checked,” Rodriguez said. “For example, as long as we know students are in [the new spaces] working after hours, or could be in there working after hours, our security folks will do a few rounds just to make sure everybody’s okay.”

Frenkel said that university administration was extremely supportive of this proposal.

“They helped arrange meetings with the correct offices to get it done as quickly as possible,” Frenkel said. “This project is a great example of students and administration working together to improve campus.”

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