Editorial: Tufts needs more independent study spaces on campus

It sometimes feels impossible to find privacy on campus. Libraries, dining halls and the Campus Center are constantly brimming with people. Common spaces in dorms can sometimes feel more social than relaxing. Even dorm rooms don’t guarantee solitude, given the presence of roommates. It can be quite challenging on a college campus to find time and space for oneself, especially to study.  

Tufts has limited space for studying independently. Though the Academic Resource Center (ARC) at Tufts tries to provide students with adequate study space, these options can be just as social as they are studious. Tisch and Ginn Libraries allow students to reserve group study rooms online. Although these are great options for project work or collaboration, the booking process prioritizes groups and the rooms must be reserved far in advance due to limited supply. The solitary desks and tables in Tisch and Ginn do not provide enough space for everyone, especially during finals week. The ARC lists 675 seats available as study spaces outside of Tisch and Ginn, including hundreds in the Mayer Campus Center for close to 5,000 undergrads.

While some dorms, like Metcalf Hall, have separate, smaller common rooms in addition to larger common areas, these rooms are limited or are not intended for independent use. Common areas are usually large or open and offer no private spots to study. Dorm rooms, although smaller and more private, do not work for everyone. Roommates have different sleep, academic and social schedules, and studies have shown that studying in your living space can be counterproductive. Additionally, dorm environments can be loud and distracting.

The basement floor of Tisch and the Reading Room of Ginn are great places to study if you need complete silence. However, the problem for many students is not noise level, it’s a desire not to distract. Students need space to practice presentations aloud, to video chat professors or peers and to study without fear they are going to disrupt other students’ attention.

Some students study better in complete solitude. Students with attention disorders, for example, might have difficulty focusing in common spaces. First-year Tufts Community Union senators underscored the need for more independent study spaces on campus.

In an interview with the Daily, Rabiya Ismail, class of 2022 Senator and assistant treasurer, stated, “If you have any sort of learning disability, I feel like it is very important to be able to study by yourself and not have distractions.”

Class of 2022 senator Carolina Olea Lezama agreed, adding that studying in public places can be “overwhelming.”

Academic stress and a lack of solitude can be worsened by the scramble to find distraction-free study spaces. Tufts should find ways to utilize existing spaces better in dorm common rooms, Tisch or Ginn libraries, the Campus Center and academic buildings. Similarly, private study space should also be factored into the design of new buildings, such as the Cummings building or any new dorm. This would maximize student productivity and give us a place to reflect, study alone and get away from hectic college life.