September 17, 2012

Cornell Hotelies Split On New, $3-Million Student Learning Center

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Though some students expressed enthusiasm about the increased study space offered by the School of Hotel Administration’s newly-opened, $3-million student learning center, others complained that the center poses several inconveniences and is too noisy to study in.The hotel school, using a donation from the J. Willard and Alice S. Mar­riott Foundation, com­­bined the World Atrium, George B. Mal­lory ’54 Stu­dent Lounge and Nestlé Hospitality Library to create the new learning space, named the Marriott Student Learning Center. Professors in the school said they hope the center will improve students’ access to technology and enhance collaboration between students.“We designed the new Marriott Learning Center to provide students with a broad range of studying and engagement spaces,” said Prof. Steven Carvell, hotel administration, associate dean for academic affairs. “Students are using library facilities differently now. The digital age is well established, and this facility was created for our next generation of leaders to maximize their Cornell educational experience.”Still, not all hotel students said they liked the changes. The additional study space and digital integration came with a cost, they said, noting that the center has no books. Carvell said they were moved to Catherwood Library in Ives Hall.“I feel like it’s less beneficial than it was before just because there are no books in [the center], and that’s the main reason why I used to use it,” said Becky Mackey ’14, a hotel school student. “Now, I have to go to the ILR library just [to get my books].”Hotel student Ceres Andrieu ’14 said that the new learning space, although intended to increase students’ access to technology, fails to meet student demand for computers.“It’s a cool space, but it still needs more computers,” Andrieu said. “When it’s really busy, everyone’s using them.”Compounding this problem, hotel student Rachel Towne ’14 said, is that the library does not currently offer a laptop rental service like it did last year. If students need to borrow a laptop, they have to make the trip over to Catherwood to do so, she said.According to Carvell, the hotel school is currently surveying students to decide which services — such as laptop rentals — to offer in the future, but that they had not come to any decisions yet.Despite the complaints of some hotel students, others said that they have found the new learning center useful.“It’s a lot more open and spacious, and there are more places for people to do work,” said Meaghan Moran ’14, who works at the center as a front desk monitor. “Whereas before, there was just a small area, now there’s more table space and outlets everywhere.”Moran said that the center’s expanded space and study rooms have been particularly useful for group work.“[Hotel students] do a lot of group projects, so they put in more meeting rooms [and] big spaces where people can gather,” Moran said. “A lot of people have been using them … Clubs love them since you can fit 16 or 20-some odd people in the club room out there. Even our smallest one fits five people.”Additionally, Moran said she thinks the space will become quieter once students begin using the student lounge, which recently re-opened.Hotel student Izzy Fratt ’14, who, last week, said she goes to the learning center every day, agreed. “It’s a lot louder, but I bet that will change once the lounge opens up,” she said. “Right now, it kind of makes you feel like you’re in an airport lounge … They’re even going to start selling food and coffee here soon.”

Original Author: Kaitlyn Kwan