Late night services in high demand for busy students

by Katherine Burns / Beacon Staff • October 29, 2015

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The Dining Hall after closing.
The Dining Hall after closing.

Freshman Hana Antrim sat on the hard tile floor outside of her dorm room at 1 a.m. diligently finishing her assignment due the next morning. In an attempt to be considerate of her sleeping roommate Antrim was stranded, with the library doors locked and the TV blaring in her floor’s common room.

“I’ve survived, it’s been okay,” Antrim, a writing, literature and publishing major, said. “It was really uncomfortable, but it was the only quiet place.”

Antrim is like many other Emerson students, whose packed schedules often leave them with no time to study, exercise, or even eat until the late hours of the night. Many find that the school’s services are not able to keep up with their clocks. 

Study spots

The Iwasaki Library in the Walker Building is open until 9 p.m. on Fridays, and until 11 p.m. on weekdays. According to Robert Fleming, executive director of the library, the closing time is based on an analysis of use patterns. Although traffic picks up around 10 p.m. after the final classes of the day, it is slow enough by 11 p.m.—only an hour later—on weeknights to warrant turning off the lights and locking up the doors.

The reference desk closes at 10 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. on weekends, based on how busy they are throughout the week. When the library is open two staff members are required to support it, according to Fleming, with one at circulation and one at the reserve desk. Often these employees are students, he said.

Sophomore Mandy Seiner, a writing, literature and publishing major, said these hours are particularly stressful for her off-campus friends who want to use the space for completing work with midnight deadlines before heading home.

“It would be a huge convenience for students and I don’t think it would be a huge strain on any department to keep it open for a few more hours,” Seiner said. “I just think it would be really useful especially compared to other schools that have libraries and centers that are open 24/7.”

Fleming said that these other schools—like Boston University, whose Mugar Library is open until 2 a.m. on weeknights, and 24/7 during finals week—have a larger staff and budget to work with when considering service hours. During finals week the Iwasaki Library hours are extended to 1 a.m. during the week.

Fleming noted that the school has several online resources, like databases and e-books, that are accessible to students online 24/7. These online resources don’t have “closing times,” but students say there’s a greater desire for late-night quiet study spots.

Booking it

The Emerson College Fitness Center is open until 9 p.m. on weekdays, and until 7 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Sunday and Saturday, respectively. The Bobbi Brown and Steven Plofker Gym is open to students during business hours on weekdays when there are no events taking place, and for two to three hour periods on weekends which are listed on the Emerson athletics’ website.

“I’ve definitely not gone [to the fitness center] at all because I didn’t have time,” Antrim said. “I would have had time if it closed later.”

The Suffolk University Fitness Center is open until 9 p.m. on weeknights, 7 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday respectively, and is closed on Sundays. The Boston University Fitness and Recreation Center is open until 11 p.m. on weekends and closes at 10 p.m. on weeknights.

Ron Smithers, the general manager of the Emerson fitness center, declined to comment for this article.

The Campus Center hosts 12 rooms that students can book for their on campus organizations. However, these spaces close at midnight during the week, and don’t open until noon on weekends.

Mary Duhon, the accountant of EmComm, said she has had difficulty finding space for her organization to meet because of limited space and hours.

“Each organization only gets one room, so if someone takes your slot you’re basically screwed,” Duhon said.

The sophomore marketing communication major said she had to book library rooms last minute when the space was taken.  

Josh Hamlin, director of the Campus Center, declined to comment.

Chowing down

The dining hall closes at 9 p.m. on weeknights, making the Paramount Cafe and the Max Cafe the only hot food options for students at night. PCaf, which closes at 11 p.m., serves almost entirely grilled or fried food, and the Max, which closes at midnight, shuts down all of its stations besides the grill at 10 p.m.

Molly Zalman, a freshman visual and media arts major who works on film sets that go late into the night, said she’s frustrated that she can’t find nutritious food included in her meal plan after the dining hall closes, and has lost 10 pounds since arriving at Emerson.

“The Max is open but it’s all fried food and stuff like that, which is awesome, but you need something healthy sometimes,” Zalman said.

Many of the on-campus eateries provide to-go food including PCaf, the Max, and Emerson’s Cafe featuring Einstein Bros. Bagels, which is open until 10 p.m. during the week. After midnight, there are no hot or to-go options available for students but the Little Building C-Store, and the convenience section of the Max, which are both open until 2 a.m.

Since Emerson has an undergraduate student body of 3,757, Karen Dickinson, director of Sodexo business services, said there is not enough demand to keep the dining hall opened later. She suggested students use the carry-out boxes earlier in the day, or go to the Max if they are looking for something to eat late at night.

Maya Savino, a sophomore on the basketball team, said she has difficulty finding food when she has morning practices before the dining hall opens. Though she lives in a suite with a microwave and mini fridge, Savino, a marketing communication major, said her teammates who live in doubles in the Little Building struggle to get breakfast before practice.

“We obviously have to spend a little more money than the average student because you have to eat something after practice,” Savino said. “It’s just more inconvenient than anything else to find alternative ways.”

Casey MacPhail, a sophomore visual and media arts major, said he is unable to afford food outside of the meal plan, and is too busy with coursework and extracurriculars to get to the dining hall before it closes.

“I’m paying a lot of money for Emerson, I would like some resources that are actually functional and actually help me out,” MacPhail said. “If the resources are closed I literally just don’t eat.”

The college’s current services are failing to support students’ health and studies, and a few extra hours could yield a great deal of comfort to those who feel curbed by their closing, said Zalman.

“I just think it’s weird that Emerson’s moving so fast and everyone’s doing so much, that things aren’t open later,” Zalman said. “I just wish the options were better. I feel like it’s almost limiting in a way.”