Senate announces pilot project to turn empty tutorial classrooms into study rooms

The initiative will begin during the Spring 2020 exam period

Photo: Kitty Cheung / The Peak

Written by: Paige Riding, News Writer

In a new pilot project starting in April, SFU is planning on making tutorial rooms available as study areas during exams. 

The initiative was announced during the February 3 Senate meeting, after student Senator Colin Fowler asked if SFU could provide additional spaces for students. Currently, designated areas were frequently overcrowded, which influenced the initiative. 

“For many, including those with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders, such as myself, this often means a difficult choice between struggling to find a place to study on campus, or staying home and getting little to nothing done.”

Assistant Registrar Kris Nordgren then announced that schedules for the availability of study spaces will be posted on SFU’s website prior to April’s exam period. Opened buildings will include: the Academic Quadrangle, Blusson Hall, the Education Building, and West Mall Centre. This initiative involves, amongst others, the Meeting, Event and Conference Services, Campus Public Safety. Further details related to booking procedure will be forthcoming.

“What we have is a tentative plan for the upcoming spring exam period. We will pilot that, see if it works, and see what we can do to make it a consistent offering,” Nordgren said.

In an emailed statement to The Peak, Colin Fowler explained that the W.A.C. Bennett Library only has a 1,500 seat capacity, and that these upcoming tutorial rooms could accommodate many more students on the Burnaby campus. In the future, other underused rooms may also become available for students during exam times.

“I was increasingly frustrated by the inability of both myself and other students to find study spots. I’ve actually attempted to study on the floor of an emergency staircase and one of my friends studied in a bathroom stall simply because there wasn’t anywhere better,” Fowler wrote, explaining why he raised the idea in front of the Senate.

“Something had to change, and I felt that the best way to increase study space was to repurpose rooms SFU already has, that aren’t used for teaching during exam periods.  There would be no construction needed and implementation could be immediate,” Fowler said. Students studying in these rooms would have access to outlets to charge their electronics, as well as whiteboards and/or chalkboards to write notes.

Nordgren explained that SFU Security would be informed that new study spaces would be open once the exam schedule was finalized in the fourth of fifth week of the semester. Nordgren also noted that many other spaces across campus are not being used effectively for study spaces, and that the university is looking at other options as well.