Renew Mizzou will displace over 400 seats in Ellis

The seats will be unavailable to students during the 2014-2015 academic year.
Book shelves, tables, and chairs sit unoccupied on Tuesday in the Current Periodicals Reading Room in Ellis Library. Offices from Jesse Hall will be relocated to Ellis Library while Jesse Hall is renovated.

Finding a quiet space to study for this year’s final exams may be challenging for many students, with construction taking place in major parts of Ellis Library.

The construction will temporarily convert two of the library’s reading rooms — the west reading room on the second floor and the former Current Periodicals Reading Room on the main floor — into office space for staff moving out of Jesse Hall while the Renew Mizzou renovations take place in Jesse and Swallow halls.

400 displaced seats

According to the MU Director of Libraries James Cogswell, more than 400 seats located in the two rooms will be impacted during the 2014 spring final exam week and become unavailable for student use throughout the summer and the 2014-2015 academic year.

“The two rooms will be open for students to use through the busy final exam week this spring,” Cogswell said in an email. “However, workmen may be present during the day, and those rooms will not be designated as ‘quiet study’ when workmen are present.”

According to the Renew Mizzou plans, the offices of Admissions, Cashiers, Registrar and Student Financial Aid will occupy the spaces in Ellis.

MU spokesman Christian Basi said the offices will be relocated to Ellis in order to allow students to conveniently access services they would normally receive at Jesse Hall.

“It’s important to note that the offices moving to Ellis Library are those that are important for students to be able to access,” Basi said in an email. “Because of that concern, (Renew Mizzou organizers) made sure these offices remained near the center of campus.”

Searching for replacements

Members of the Missouri Students Association and Campus Facilities are working together to replace the lost spaces.

MSA Academic Affairs Committee chairman Ben Vega and Student Affairs Committee chairman Mitch Moonier resolved that the best course of action was to circulate information about the construction taking place in Ellis, and develop a list of alternative places where students can study, both on and off campus.

To construct the list, MSA Senate Speaker Ben Bolin, Vega and members of the two committees contacted several campus building coordinators, asking for permission to list academic halls, public buildings and private venues as alternative study spaces, as well as each location’s hours and available space.

As of May 5, the list includes over 200 “alternative” seats on campus, as well as 49 seats at Vida Coffee, 150 at the Columbia Public Library and 75 at the Hy-Vee located on 25 Conley Road.

“We received overwhelmingly positive responses,” Vega said. “However, there were some people who said they couldn’t do it for security reasons … which was disappointing, but we understand.”

Bolin and Vega have also been in contact with the Interim Vice Chancellor of Operations Gary Ward about designing a map showcasing the alternative study spaces.

Ward was unavailable for comment.

Campus Facilities spokeswoman Karlan Seville said student workers at the Sustainability Office are currently working on the map.

Preparing for the future

Moonier said the work that has been done so far not only helped to address the current problem, but has also laid the foundation for addressing the same problem for the remainder of Renew Mizzou.

“This is going to be an issue for the next two semesters, and I think we can take the groundwork that’s been laid moving forward, and plan to make more spaces for the fall and spring semesters,” he said.

The list will remain as a resource for students even after Renew Mizzou renovations are complete, Vega said, to make sure students know of alternative study spaces.

Vega said his concern originates from when Ellis fell prey to an arsonist in 2011 and students were unable to use certain parts of the library afterwards due to the repairs that took place.

“I’m sure there were steps taken, but as a freshman, I wasn’t very aware. I think it’s good we (now) have a safety net,” Vega said.

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