Exclusivity is not the answer for study spaces

Since its opening last year, the Paul L. Foster Campus for Business and Education has housed some of the newest rooms and technology on campus. However, the resources offered by the School of Business are relatively limited by its emphasis on prioritizing business student access at the expense of everyone else.

Take, for example, the 36 team rooms at Foster. These spaces are meant to be used as spaces to facilitate group meetings through resources such as a flat screen monitor, conference seating and laptop connection capabilities.These rooms are only available for business majors, minors, graduates or anyone taking at least one business course. Access is enforced by card swipers as well as a room reservation option added to your idcard.baylor.edu portal. According to Technology Center director and part-time lecturer Anthony Lapes, the process itself is not fool-proof and there have been issues in the past regarding access to these rooms even to people who would qualify to use them.

In addition to the team rooms, the second floor houses the Technology Commons and the Technology Commons Learning Lab. With more than 82 computers, automatic access is given to business school students taking at least one course during the fall and spring semester. There is, however, a loophole to this rule for non-business students. According to the Baylor Business Technology website, a student who does not fit into the aforementioned criteria to gain lab access can do so through a $25 HSB Technology Commons Lab fee. While this amount is certainly not a penalty for not being a business student (business student access to the lab is covered by their HSB Electronic Resources Fee), students should be told this information before attempting to log into a computer that they will not be able to gain access to. It is at that point that a non-business student can decide whether fighting for one of the other 12 general access computers on the other side of the floor is really worth it.

The system is problematic for two reasons. First, it leaves out students who have classes at Foster that are non-business related. There are courses offered at Foster, such as World Cultures II or Social World I, that have very little to do with business at all. And yet, every week groups of students visit the school knowing there are sections of it that they cannot easily gain access to.

Second, it hardly seems fair when comparing other schools around campus. Take the Baylor Sciences Building for example. Most of the building is open to the general public whether students are science majors at all. Two separate computer areas are open for general usage as well as plenty of study rooms and spaces that do not require the use of card swipers at all. The computer lab at the Sid Richardson building is another example of a space free to the public. Why then should Foster be any different? Between the computer lab, classrooms, activity labs and team rooms, it seems as if the only truly open spaces for all majors to use are the hallways in between or the downstairs seating area.

The preference for business student access is understandable. After all, Lapes said spaces like the Technology Commons were created to make sure that those taking business classes have access to resources without fearing limited availability. However, it leaves other students to ask what will or will not be available to them at Foster.

Foster should have more spaces and resources available for non-business students. It can even be through separate times, dates or sections. At the very least, the opportunity should be there. In cases like the Technology Commons, students should be notified of its exclusive nature.