New overnight safe study service said to be a hit with students
By all accounts a major late-night safe study pilot project involving a number of campus units in December was a great success.
U of S Community Safety Manager Janice Lavoie, who co-ordinated the initiative, says feedback from participating students, workers and volunteers who helped out suggests the service was appreciated and there were no problems.
“We’re thrilled with how it went, and I’ve been told by the campus administration to make it a regular event every December and April (during final exams),” Lavoie says.
She says the expanded new project was built on an excellent late-night study service offered by the campus chaplains for the past 25 years. It had been offered variously in Lower Place Riel, Upper MUB, and for the past couple of years in the basement of Saskatchewan Hall.
The former chaplain-run service closed at 2:00 or 3:00 a.m., but the new service offers full overnight safe studying.
“This year, with safety concerns at the forefront, the University joined with the chaplains and USSU (the U of S Students’ Union) to turn this into a bigger initiative in a more central location,” Lavoie says.
For 16 consecutive nights – Dec. 6-21 – from late-evening when the Main Library closed, through to morning when the Library opened again, students were invited to find space anywhere in the two floors of the Arts classroom wing to study.
Lavoie notes the area offers a number of classrooms, a computer lab, washrooms and a student lounge.
As a partner in the project, USSU provided Student Crew staff, who patrolled the area at all times. They had two-way radios which they could use to contact the Campus Safety Department. In addition, Campus Safety officers occasionally came through the Arts classroom wing.
Lavoie says for an added sense of security for everyone, the classroom doors were all kept open, and the men’s and women’s washroom doors were removed.
“While safety is the priority for this initiative, we also wanted to provide fellowship and community for students while they studied,” Lavoie says. So, for example, free snacks and drinks were provided by Food Services and sometimes by Louis’. And if exam stress became a problem, chaplains were on-hand or students could be referred to counselling or other campus services.
“We’re extremely pleased with the turnout and the feedback from students,” Lavoie says.
During a few peak times there were close to 70 students in the safe-study area, and she says it was obvious that some students did move to the area from the Library after the Library closed. The Library let its users know the overnight service was available.
“From everything I’ve seen, there were no issues arising from the project, and students were grateful for the expanded service,” Lavoie says.