Web eases room hunt

By Zachary Abrahamson

CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

Zach Marks ’09 can still recall the frustration he felt on a Sunday night last year when — arriving at a scheduled Freshman College Council meeting in a basement room of William L. Harkness Hall — he instead entered a chemistry review session. As he and other FCC members searched for an open room to meet in, he realized how badly Yale’s system of classroom reservation needed to be improved.

“We went through every room in the basement, and they all either had an a cappella group or a study group.” said Marks, now the secretary of the Yale College Council.

Problems like these may come to an end for Eli student groups with the roll-out of Web Viewer, a new online service sponsored by the YCC that allows students to reserve on-campus space for student groups. Faculty of Arts and Sciences registrar Jill Carlton said she believes the system will streamline the process of room reservation.

“Web Viewer makes information about room usage easily available to the Yale community,” Carlton said in an e-mail.

In the past, student groups had to jump several hurdles in order to reserve classroom space. After registering their organization with the Yale College Dean’s Office, student group leaders had to visit the registrar’s office with a room in mind at least five days before the space was needed, according to the registrar’s Web site. Often, groups also had to seek approval from the department in charge of the classroom in order to make a reservation. Marks characterized the entire process as “tedious” and said it detracted from the YCC’s goal of transparency in student government.

“It was silly that the YCC couldn’t reserve a room,” he said. “We’re trying to be as transparent as possible, and we’re meeting in the WLH basement.”

Mike Truskowski ’08, business manager for the Society of Orpheus and Bacchus a cappella group, said he remembered going to four separate offices around campus in an attempt to find a room for the SOBs spring jam.

“If there were a way to check the availability of performance spaces online, it would have at least saved us a lot of walking time,” he said in an e-mail.

The SOBs were not the only a cappella group to express unhappiness with the old system. Eric Bank ’08, business manager for the Yale Alley Cats, said it was not uncommon for academic meetings to occur in scheduled rooms and take precedence over a cappella groups that had made arrangements to use the room.

Although it was often criticized, some groups were satisfied with the old system. Ben Colman ’08, coordinator of Mind Matters, Yale’s Undergraduate Mental Health Organization, said in an e-mail that the prior process for room reservation was simple and “perfectly functional.” According to Colman, delays only occurred when conflicting discussion sections mandated a shift in meeting locations. Even so, Colman welcomed the introduction of an online reservation system.

“[I] would use the online system for sake of ease,” he said.

Some said one drawback to the new system may be its lack of visibility. Will Tsui ’07 said he observed that Web Viewer’s link was not immediately apparent on YaleStation’s main page. But Monday night, a direct link to room reservations was added to the “Calendar” section of the Web site.

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