The university recently announced that North Quad 160, which was previously the World Languages and Cultures Lab and a study area for all students, will now strictly be used for the student athlete study table program.
Professors in the departments that are housed within the building learned of the change via an email from the university's Student Athlete Support Services, which reads:
"Student Athlete Support Services will be utilizing NQ 160 for our study table program beginning Sunday August 24, 2017. We will use this space for the next few years until campus construction is finished. We understand that this impacts many people and want to keep everyone informed. This space will no longer be used as a study/meeting space or walk through. The vending machines will remain in the building, but will be moved. While there isn’t a location yet determined, we will let people know asap! Finally we will lock all doors except the northwest doors to direct the flow of traffic. Thank you for your patience as we try and support our student athletes to the best of our ability."
Students, however, were only notified of the change by a sign that was posted on the door of North Quad 160.
“They didn’t tell anyone about it. There was no email saying we wouldn’t be able to use the room. There wasn’t any sort of notification, our professors didn’t say anything because a lot of them didn’t even know," said Codey Fauber, a junior social work major. "It was very fishy and in my opinion, very inappropriate not to communicate that properly to the other students who do use that room.”
The change came after a request for a room large enough to hold at least 100 student athletes was put in by Student Athlete Support Services. The University Space Committee — which made the final decision — reviewed other rooms on campus, but found that many of the desks weren't big enough to accommodate some of the student athletes, or the rooms were too small for proper supervision.
The study table program in North Quad is already in effect. Students previously used the room for studying, organization meetings and a place to relax in between classes.
Now, the Student Athlete Support Services study table program will use the space as an athletes-only study area. This change will benefit around 400 students, according to university spokesperson Marc Ransford.
“I don’t want to blame students who are athletes," said Fauber. "It’s a bureaucratic decision that was made by people behind desks and who aren’t really a part of the campus community, who may not have been fully aware of how important that area is to students."
One of the best parts about the lab, according to Fauber, was the televisions that played live feed from foreign countries, in their native tongue.
"[The programs] would often have subtitles so the students could come in there and see those. Where else are we going to get that information, except for taking the extra time to search for it," said Fauber. “It’s kind of not only an attack on the students who used it as a language lab, but also an attack on the foreign exchange students who are intrigued on what's going on in their countries."
Marilyn Buck, interim provost and interim executive vice president for academic affairs, said in an email from Ransford that other accommodations will be made for the affected students.
"The students who used the space as a lounge or study area will find the furniture has been distributed throughout the building," said Buck. "There are many locations around campus where the meetings can be held. In the evenings, there are classrooms in NQ that are empty and available."
Now, the doors to North Quad 160 will be locked to all students, except student-athletes, to redirect the flow of traffic away from the lounge. This decision limits distraction for students who are studying, according to Buck.
Sophomore political science major Isaac Mitchell said that this decision could cause students to have resentment toward the athletic department.
“I think that a lot of academic students have a lot of resentment toward the athletes and the athletics programs, which is a huge flaw, no one should be feeling that way," said Mitchell. "However, when the university goes and does something like this, it’s going to build those resentments. It tells other students that you’re not as important as the athletes and overall I don’t see much good coming from this because I don’t think the athletes want that negative attention either.”
North Quad 160 will stay designated as an athlete study lounge until the program can be relocated to another space on campus.
The Daily News reached out the the athletic department for a comment, but they could not be reached.