Students studying late into the night on campus will no longer have to worry about finding a safe place to hit the books during this year’s exams.
After including it as part of her campaign platform, University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union Vice-President Student Affairs Nour Abouhamra was pleased to announce at the Nov. 28 University Students’ Council meeting that the 24-hour Safe Study program is on its way to becoming an reality.
The Safe Study program will be piloted in the Murray Library during this exam period as well as throughout the second semester’s midterm and exam periods.
Currently students can stay on the ground floor of the Murray Library until 1 a.m. while the USSU Student Crew — a service dedicated to student-run security on campus and hanging posters — provides a safe studying environment.
From 8 a.m. on Dec. 4 to 6 p.m. on Dec. 21, the Murray Library will continuously be open to students with full library services during regular hours of operation and the ground floor open during Safe Study hours. The engineering, law and veterinary medicine libraries will have extended hours but will not include Safe Study. Hours of operation for the science, education and music and health sciences libraries will not change.
Abouhamra said increasing the hours of Safe Study was an important part of her election platform because she knows from first-hand experience the dangers students can face by studying in isolated places at the university late at night.
“I’ve studied late in the library and I noticed that at one o’clock students start going somewhere else in the university, like random classrooms in [the Arts Building] or just different corners of the university that weren’t really safe,” Abouhamra said.
Knowing that these isolated areas may not be patrolled by U of S Protective Services can be distracting for students trying to study.
“Students feel that they always have to be cautious of their surroundings, which affects their concentration on coursework.”
Another issue with students going to random rooms on campus is that doors are often locked from one direction. Students may end up stranded from their belongings if they go through a door that they do not know is locked from the other side.
Student Crew Coordinator Ata Merat said he has seen that students have been needed 24-hour Safe Study in the past.
“We realized students weren’t happy to leave the library at 1 a.m. and for sure they would ask questions like where on campus they can study after Safe Study hours,” Merat said.
After first bringing the issue to university administration over the summer, Abouhamra was met with doubts that students would use the extended Safe Study hours. However, after a meeting with the Association of Constituency Presidents — where presidents of student associations for colleges, the Indigenous Students’ Council and the international students’ representative meet — Abouhamra said she asked each president to write a letter to the U of S indicating that a 24-hour Safe Study program is a priority.
Abouhamra said university administration didn’t think this exam period would provide an accurate representation of students’ interest since the announcement came less than a week before exams begin.
“They want to have it over a few trials to see if it is actually working and being used,” she said.
Student Crew will conduct their usual head count every half hour while keeping track of the number of students who enter the library and submit their information to university administration.
If 24-hour Safe Study passes the pilot stage, Abouhamra said she will recommend that the service begins one week earlier than it does this year.
“This would target students that are working on term assignments, projects and those that have earlier exams. Lab exams tend to be scheduled during the last week of classes and students in colleges such as medicine and dentistry start their finals as early as Monday,” Abouhamra said.
Students will have access to free parking in pay parking lot 1 — the lot across from Place Riel — from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. to accommodate students’ transportation needs since most busses do not run late during those hours.
Culinary Services has offered to provide healthy snacks throughout the night.
Photo: Jordan Dumba/Photo Editor