SOM study spaces in flux

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Photo by Kamaria Greenfield.

Since the School of Management’s student center Donaldson Commons closed in December, the school has worked to provide students with replacement study spaces until its new campus opens in 2013.

SOM converted several rooms in its main building at 135 Prospect St. into individual and group study spots for students after the school’s student center closed. Though administrators told students that Donaldson would be razed to make room for Yale’s new residential colleges, it was unclear how the facilities would be replaced until late last semester. Students interviewed said they were initially apprehensive about the change, but are now satisfied with using the temporary facilities as SOM awaits completion of its new campus on Whitney Avenue.

“I think we are now officially in between the old campus and the new campus,” Shawn Isakson SOM ’12 said. “We’re definitely in this transition space — they’re just trying to kind of patch things together for just the next year or two.”

SOM student government president Bryce Hall SOM ’12 said the student government provided administrators with student feedback on how to compensate for Donaldson’s closure, though he added that the student government was not involved in any decision-making and that administrators had started working on a solution before the academic year began.

Isakson, who attended an informal meeting with SOM Dean Edward Snyder over tea last semester, said that when the issue of Donaldson’s closure was raised, Snyder appeared “slightly unaware” of how greatly the change would impact student life.

“He came in, brand new to the job, and he’s trying to figure out a million different things,” Isakson said. “The University tells him, ‘We’re taking down Donaldson,’ and something he might not have realized was that SOM students used that space a whole lot.”

Tiffany Young SOM ’13 said she thought the shortage of study spaces would prompt students to explore other parts of Yale. She said she once worked on a group project in a Bass Library study room — a study option some of her group members did not know existed.

But SOM spokeswoman Tabitha Wilde said Donaldson Commons did not have a “long history” with students as a study location.

“It had only been open to students for a few years, and we don’t expect its loss to affect student life,” Wilde said in a Friday email.

Sherilyn Scully, SOM’s director of student and academic services, and Diane Palmeri, SOM’s chief administrative officer and associate dean for finance and administration, could not be reached for comment.

Eight students said the closure of Donaldson Commons most noticeably impacted student life by forcing the “Closing Bell” — SOM’s weekly happy hour — to relocate.

Jennifer Belliveau SOM ’12, a student life co-chair for SOM’s student government, said the happy hour now takes place on Thursday evenings in Kline Biology Tower’s cafe, as there is no SOM space large enough to accommodate the crowd of over 100 that attends the event.

“It’s a little sad because Donaldson really felt like our space,” she said. “We’re in a space now that doesn’t really belong to us.”

When construction finishes on the new campus, several students said the student body will likely become more isolated from the rest of Yale. Kevin Spinella SOM ’12 said the school’s new facilities will have “all of the available study space anyone could want.”

Donaldson Commons formerly housed a dining facility that was closed for budgetary reasons in 2010..

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