Michelle Li / Sun Contributor

Students take advantage of the reservation system to study on campus.

October 14, 2020

Students Weigh in On New Reality of Socially-Distanced Study Spaces

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As the semester falls into full swing, the undergraduate population regularly faces a daily decision — choosing between studying in their homes or venturing out to study spaces on campus.

Presented with an assortment of study spaces — small and large, quiet and collaborative, centralized and remote — students’ routines of moving between classes has been mostly replaced with the click of a button.

For Eva Dani ’24, the choice of where to study is obvious. Since Dani normally does everything in her room, getting distracted is her primary concern. As a result, she spends most of her time after her classes in libraries or study spaces — her favorite spots are A.D. White Library and McGraw Hall.

Dani takes full advantage of the rooms with chalkboards, where she does her physics homework unbothered. “It’s just for my own sanity at this point. I just need to get out and change the scenery a little bit,” Dani said.

She is not discouraged from working in study spaces by the risks of COVID-19 because of the safety guidelines that are set in place, including disinfection stations and social distancing.

“No one’s not wearing a mask,” Dani said. “Even while studying there the whole time.”

Similar to Dani, Andrew Kassin ’23 has always enjoyed going to libraries because it gives him a designated space in which to focus solely on work.

As an engineering major, Upson Hall is his favorite spot because he is familiar with the building and enjoys the big rooms that he can sit in with a small group of friends; however, he has found that other spaces have become increasingly difficult to book.

“Usually at Upson, you can book the space the day of, but some of the others you have to book a couple days before, which gets annoying,” said Kassin. In order to maintain a sense of normalcy and work around his uncertain schedule, he often books study spaces for consecutive hours.

“You don’t always know exactly what your plan is or what things are going to come up at the last minute, so that’s a little annoying. But you know, you work with it,” Kassin said.

Similar to Kassin, Liza Handler ’22 has also been taking advantage of study spaces through the Chatter app, the primary method for booking rooms. Her favorite spot is also Upson Hall due to its quiet environment and proximity to her house in Collegetown.

Like other students, her choice to study on campus instead of at home reflects a “need to have a separation between school and home, otherwise I find it very difficult to focus.” Handler finds that when she is productive early on, it gives her the opportunity to relax when she gets home and hang out with friends.

Brandon Cullen ’21 has a similar study strategy. Before the pandemic, Cullen mainly studied at Mann Library, but this year he has regularly been working at Uris Library since it is closer to where he lives in Collegetown.

He too has noticed some difficulty booking rooms during the day; however, he has attempted to mitigate this issue by reserving further in advance.

“There are ‘quiet rooms’ that are set up to allow for social distancing, but there are still multiple people in the room at the same time,” Cullen said. “I’ve been doing work in this type of space most of the time, and it has worked well for me so far.”

Manuel Carballo ’21 has a very different approach to studying from the other students — he normally does work in his apartment in Collegetown.

“For the most part, I usually study by myself, but I am lucky enough to have some friends in classes with me, so sometimes we get together at each other’s apartments and study together,” Carballo said.

This strategy has been working well for Carballo, but he explained that when it comes down to crunch time, it is nice to have the option to book a study space.

“I might consider booking a study space when I start getting more prelims for my harder classes this semester when I really need to focus and make sure I get all my work done,” Carballo said.

Even in the age of coronavirus and virtual classes, students have largely not been dissuaded from taking advantage of Cornell’s physical spaces.

“If anyone feels stuck in their room or that they don’t have a lot of structure to their days, taking your online classes from a place on campus is a nice way to get outside and during the day; for me, it has been really helpful,” Handler said.