Opinion: Let us in!

The Kellogg Center at the time of closing, midnight. When the center for studying and socialization closes, students are left with nowhere else to go during late nights on campus (Photo by Bella Bakeman).

The Kellogg Center, or the KC as it is more affectionately known, is Albion College’s hub for student life. It hosts campus events, houses our beloved Eat Shop, holds student clubs and organizations and ultimately is meant to be a safe place for students to hang out.

The Albion College Student Handbook defines it clearly: “The Kellogg Center is a campus center where all members of the campus community are welcome and encouraged to interact on a formal and informal basis,” it says. “The Kellogg Center also provides services for the convenience of the campus community.”

Unfortunately for its students, that convenience ends at midnight. 

The Building Hours and Access section of the Student Handbook states “the Kellogg Center is open seven days a week during the academic year for students, family and staff.” 

It should be noted that there is language in the handbook that says when the student center should be closed.

“The Kellogg Center will have limited hours during academic breaks and the summer,” according to the handbook.

Yet, throughout the handbook’s lengthy 127 pages, there is nothing that says it should be closed to students during the academic year.

Why is it then that we don’t have access after midnight?

Why doesn’t our school allow us access to our student center at all hours? Has something changed? Do we no longer “have access to the Kellogg Center seven days a week for late-night meetings, work sessions or just hanging out” as our handbook states?

According to the Director for Campus Life, Jennifer Yawson, the KC was open for 24 hours when it first opened in 1996. She also said that when she started working for Albion College, 21 years ago, it was open until 2 a.m., then 1 a.m. and then midnight as it currently is.

“From my understanding, the reason why those hours have changed is because of student traffic patterns,” Yawson said. “Over the years we have kept track of traffic patterns in the building and it was showing students were not using it until 2 a.m.”

Traffic patterns are calculated by student workers counting the number of students on each floor, every hour. There has been no foot-traffic tracking this year, Yawson said.

Last semester, my friends and I were hanging out on the 4th floor of the KC laughing, listening to music and playing Cards Against Humanity. None of us were paying attention to our phones, let alone the time. We had just started a new round of cards when a custodian approached us.

He looked at us, clapped his hands together and told us the building was closed and we had to leave. 

Annoyed with nowhere to go, we packed up our stuff to look for another space. There were eight of us –– far too many to fit in my dorm room and none of us felt much like going to a frat party. 

So, we decided to try the Seaton Hall lounge where my friend resides. Unfortunately for us, it was occupied by a group of students studying. I glanced at the group and felt defeated. We had nowhere else to go.

So, we parted ways.

This is not a unique experience. Often, my friends and I are faced with the unfortunate realization that we have nowhere to spend time together.

So, the question is: What can we do about it?

Yawson says that if there is a need for students to have later access to the KC, a student proposal should be made.

“It’s based on student need and student traffic,” Yawson said.

Another hub for student life, the Stockwell-Mudd Library, closes before midnight. Last semester the library’s hours were 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., closing a full 2 hours earlier than the KC. This semester they have increased our staying ability by 1 hour, closing at 11 p.m. instead.

Library Director Jill Mason says they extended their hours in response to usage and student feedback. 

The library’s weekend hours, however, remained unchanged.  This has left me and many other students frustrated.

On Friday the library is only open from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday the hours are a measly 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. – 11 p.m. 

“The weekend schedule is based on usage, which we have observed over many years. Our schedule is comparable to other small colleges in the area,” Mason said.

My friends and I are frequently kicked out of the library. At least once a week we are holed up in the Mudd basement right until we are told to leave and forced to find a new space.

We ask ourselves often: Where to next?

Where then, are we supposed to retreat to on the weekends? Where are we to study when our roommates are having company, talking on the phone or simply occupying our shared space? Should we be expected to always keep our desks clean, lights on and headphones in?

Albion College students deserve a safe space outside of our dorm rooms to exist in – whether it be an earlier-than-8 a.m. morning read or late-night writing session.

According to the handbook: “Students use their Albion 1Card for identification, dining admission, residence hall access, library privileges, Dow Center access and entrance to campus events.”

It doesn’t feel like much of a privilege to keycard into a library on a Saturday afternoon, only to be kicked out at 5 pm.

As students of Albion College, we have the opportunity to use our voices to express the need for extended hours, be it the library or KC. We can talk to our administrators, create flyers and write petitions and proposals. We have the power to unite as a community and to enact the change we want to see.

About Bella Bakeman 11 Articles
Bella Bakeman is a sophomore from Berkley, Michigan. She is majoring in English with a Secondary Education Concentration and minoring in Political Science. Bella can be found with a camera around her neck, notebook in hand and pen in her pocket. Contact Bella via email at INB10@albion.edu.

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