During the previous term’s final examination week, the University Student Government (USG) conducted the pilot testing of UniSpace, a 24/7 study facility open to all the students and faculty of De La Salle University.
Situated in Gokongwei Lobby from December 6 to December 15, 2017, the project was an initiative of the Office of the Vice President for Internal Affairs (OVPIA) in coordination with the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Administration (OVCA) and Office of the Associate Vice Chancellor for Campus Development (OAVCCD).
In an interview with The LaSallian, Mildred Saquing (III, BS-CIV-TRE), who co-headed the project with Belle Ledesma, said that their primary objective was to create a study space that is safe, accessible, and conducive for productivity and learning. Moreover, she and her team wanted to “promote a culture of hard work, academic excellence and value of learning in the Lasallian community” through the creation of a learning facility.
What went right, what went wrong
UniSpace was met with positive comments from those who utilized it during its test run. According to Saquing, a number of the respondents said that the initiative “helped them to be more productive during the so-called hell week of the term.” Saquing’s team was also able to observe the extended use of the facility, with students staying even up to three o’clock in the morning. She adds that many of the students saw the initiative as beneficial to the Lasallian community, and were hoping that the facility will continue its operations in the following terms.
More than just being a study facility, UniSpace also housed an honesty store. The honesty store is a self-service initiative that sells basic student necessities like food, drinks, and school supplies.
Alnair Guevarra (III, BS-ECE) believes that although UniSpace is a good initiative, it could still be improved by possibly moving to a bigger space, fixing the ventilation, and improving the internet connection. On the other hand, he commends the presence of the honesty store because the students were able to get their needs without having to leave the confines of the facility.
Erica Paez (III, BS-MKT) shares the same sentiments with Guevarra regarding the lack of seats and tables. Nonetheless, she says, “the project gave me a place to study without having to worry about my safety.”
Although the pilot test can generally be considered a success based on the survey conducted by OVPIA, some issues still need to be addressed, namely the limited seating capacity and the poor internet connection.
As of the moment, there are no plans of moving the facility to a bigger venue because, according to Saquing, Gokongwei Hall is the most practical location because of its separation from the main University, especially with regard to financial (electricity consumption) and safety concerns. She adds that they are planning on cutting the seating capacity down to mitigate risks in the case of an emergency.
Meanwhile, the internet connection in Gokongwei Hall is currently confined to only a few access points which can only cater to a limited number of devices. Saquing says that they have already raised this issue with the Information Technology Services (ITS) Office, which in turn assured them that it is doing its best to address the problem.
Other adjustments to be made include implementing a revised set of house rules. For one, outsiders and senior high school students will not be permitted to enter the facility. Students are also not allowed to reserve tables and chairs for long periods of time, in order to leave room for those who actually want to use the learning space. Similarly, signages bearing the message “share a seat, make a friend” have also been put up to encourage students to share seats and maximize the seating capacity of the study hall. As for matters regarding dress code and security, the facility remains predisposed to existing University policies.
Changes for UniSpace, future plans of OVPIA
Aside from the honesty store, OVPIA is also currently working on providing self-service printing and photocopying services inside the study hall. They are also looking into the possibility of establishing other services that would be beneficial to the patrons of the facility such as coin-operated charging stations, microwaves, and vending machines.
Due to the overwhelming response they got from the Lasallian community, OVPIA relaunched the project, now renamed “24-Hour Study Hall,” last January 22. It will be fully operational until April 20, and will only be closed every Sunday—except for February 11, February 18, and April 15—as well as other special holidays.
In addition to the 24-Hour Study Hall, OVPIA is also coordinating with the University administration for other initiatives like charging stations, off-site parking spaces, enhanced University wifi, and a University carpool and shuttle system.