After a survey last year revealed that many graduate students lack space to study, administrators are looking for ways to reallocate space within academic departments.
A few rooms in the Hall of Graduate Studies and Linsly-Chittenden Hall have been identified for graduate students to use, but these are only a “drop in the bucket” to solve the study space problem, said Dean Plummer, who is working on the issue as a special assistant to Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Dean Thomas Pollard. Pollard said the Graduate School is determining which buildings have other rooms that could also be converted into study spaces.
“The challenge really is that we can’t create any new space, and so what we do is a moving-around of uses,” Plummer said.
He added that he hopes to make space available to students near their academic departments and relocate rooms and offices that do not need to be near a specific department.
Administrators became aware of the lack of study space after the Graduate Student Assembly conducted a survey of academic departments last year, Pollard and GSA President Andrea Stavoe GRD ’14 said. The survey looked at whether graduate students in various departments had access to three kinds of space: 24-hour work space, space to work collaboratively and space to meet with undergraduates.
All the science and social science departments that responded to the survey had 24-hour access to some sort of study space, and most of those departments had access to all three types of space, Stavoe said. By contrast, six humanities departments — Renaissance studies, Spanish and Portuguese, American studies, German, film studies and history — did not have access to any study space at all, Stavoe said.
“In the humanities we had departments that literally had no space whatsoever for students,” Stavoe said. “We were kind of shocked to get that.”
Since then, Pollard said he has talked to department chairs about making new space available to graduate students. For example, a suite of rooms in HGS that was reserved for the Graduate School dean but Pollard said he did not use were turned into dormitory rooms for graduate students. This allowed three dorm rooms close to the History Department to be converted for use by graduate students, Pollard said. The rooms will likely serve as offices for teaching fellows in the department, said Francesca Trivellato, director of graduate studies for the History Department.
“Once they allow us into these rooms, we should have 24-hour access to a space on campus for the first time, which is a big deal,” history graduate student Kevin Fogg GRD ’12 said in an email.
Fogg and three GSA members interviewed said they feel the administration has been receptive to their needs, but Fogg added that with over 100 students in the history doctoral program, the three rooms “barely scratch the surface of our needs for space.”
Plummer said there are ongoing discussions about extending the hours of the HGS common room as well. Finding space for students in HGS is also difficult because the building has not been renovated for many years, Pollard said.
“Older buildings such as HGS have little or no space for graduate students since they were constructed decades ago when our FAS faculty and graduate student body were much smaller and are now completely full with faculty offices and classrooms,” he said.
By contrast, departments such as linguistics and music created new study space for students when they renovated their buildings in the last decade, Pollard and Plummer said. Rosenkranz Hall, which opened in 2009 and houses the Political Science Department, has plenty of space for students as well, they added.
The other space besides HGS that will be converted for graduate student use is a basement room in Linsly-Chittenden Hall, home of the English Department’s graduate program. Plummer said the room, LC 004, was previously used by an audiovisual production group but has not been in use for over a year.
English Department Chair Langdon Hammer said the room has yet to be cleared of old computers and other equipment but the department is discussing how it can be used.
Plummer said he is also working with Sterling Memorial Library to make study carrels, which sometimes have a wait list, more easily available to graduate students. University Librarian Susan Gibbons added that subject-specific reading rooms in the library, such as the American Studies Reading Room, the Philosophy Reading Room and the American History Reading Room, are open to anyone in the Yale community, not only students in those disciplines.
The GSA surveyed graduate school departments between November 2010 and January 2011.