With the opening of the Library’s new Information Commons earlier this semester also came a room where students can meet, study or simply hang out. Such amenities are vital to a campus’s social life, yet they are largely missing from USF’s campus.
The Library’s first floor recently reopened with a vast array of computers. The primary addition visitors walking into the Library will notice, though, is a large room full of chairs grouped around tables. USF’s wireless Internet service, which is offered to all enrolled students free of charge, is also available in this area. This has led to the this relatively new location being established as a very popular hangout among students mere days after its opening.
There are very few other locations where students can meet in a casual atmosphere. Notable exceptions are the new room in the Library and similar rooms in the Phyllis P. Marshall Center and the dorms.
This is a major oversight on the University’s part. The establishment of spaces where students can not only meet but also feel at home is vital in USF’s endeavor to get away from the “commuter school” stigma that has been attached to USF since its founding. After all, if students do not feel at home on campus, they will only spend as much time as absolutely necessary at USF and lead their social lives elsewhere.
Such spaces do not necessarily have to be indoors. One of USF’s strengths when new or prospective students visit the campus is its many open spaces between buildings that are, for the most part, landscaped and well maintained. But only a few locations, such as the fountain at Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza, offer students the possibility to sit in groups.
Wherever such spaces are created, though, the main goal should be to make students feel at home. Nobody wants to spend time sitting in uncomfortable chairs or under glaring fluorescent lights, a main problem in the few existing locations.
These spaces would not necessarily cost much money to build and maintain, but their creation would go a long way to establish USF as a home away from home.