Students enjoy late-night study space

24-hours draws them in, popcorn keeps them there: student leader

Volunteer JD Hutton makes cookies for studying students. (Photo: Rachel Ward)

Stressed-out students have been taking advantage of popcorn, waffles and coffee at Dalhousie University’s only 24-hour study space.

The Dalhousie Student Union is picking up the tab for staff to keep the Student Union Building open during exam period, as well as for free snacks and coffee, available all night. The DSU has hired two staff to keep the building open and manage the food.

Aaron Beale, the DSU’s academic and external vice-president, is behind the operation. He has been running around each night, baking cookies, grilling waffles and brewing coffee. Students have been appreciative, he says, but also surprised.

“Students are in rough shape. Whether they’re writing exams and stressed out, or pulling all-nighters, that’s really important,” says Beale.

One second-year student, Juan Reyes, was studying in the 24-hour space until about 2:30 a.m. on Thursday. He says he found the space after getting kicked out of Killam Library once the upper floors closed. The main floor of the library doesn’t close until 3 a.m., but Reyes says it’s too packed and stressful.

“It’s a pain in the ass… there’s just a lot of people,” says Reyes. “There’s no place to study.”

Student Juan Reyes takes a study break to enjoy a few cookies and waffles. (Photo: Rachel Ward)

Reyes and his friends, all science students, camped out for a few hours, along with about 30 other students. Student volunteers JD Hutton and Holly Lobsinger helped Beale keep fresh baked cookies and waffles coming.

“This space is awesome. There’s food and nice people and we’re all here to study,” says Reyes. “It’s definitely useful. We definitely need it. I’d probably go home and try to hack at something by myself but here I can come with a couple buddies and get some group work done.”

This time last year, anywhere between 130 and 200 students were in the Killam library in the wee hours of the morning.

The main floor of the SUB, excluding the bar and food vendors, will be open 24-hours during exam period until December 16. Beale says he’d like to do this again for next exam period, but say it depends on student feedback. But, he says students have been making good use of it so far – and it all comes down the popcorn.

“Food gets people anywhere,” says Beale, as he scoots over to refill the popcorn maker. “People love it and it smells really good and it’s good for you.”

He pauses and laughs.

“Maybe not… It’s not bad for you, is it?”

DSU volunteer J.D. Hutton makes cookies for studying students.Students wrote Holly Lobsinger and J.D. Hutton try out a freshly baked cookie, one of the first of multiple batches they'd make that night. (Photo: Rachel Ward)Student Juan Reyes studies with his friend in the 24-hour study space at the Dalhousie Student Union Building. (Photo: Rachel Ward)Juan Reyes takes a quick break, juggling cookies and waffles. He says he's glad to find a comfortable space while prepping for two exams. (Photo: Rachel Ward)
DSU volunteer JD Hutton makes cookies for studying students. (Photo: Rachel Ward)
Students wrote "exam fortunes" on scraps of paper, and then the cooks wrapped freshly-grilled waffles around them, like fortune cookies. (Photo: Rachel Ward)
Holly Lobsinger and Hutton try out a freshly baked cookie, one of the first of multiple batches they'd make that night. (Photo: Rachel Ward)
Hutton preps a final tray before carrying waffles and cookies downstairs. (Photo: Rachel Ward)
Student Juan Reyes studies with his friend in the 24-hour study space at the Dalhousie Student Union Building. (Photo: Rachel Ward)
Juan Reyes takes a quick break, juggling cookies and waffles. He says he's glad to find a comfortable space while prepping for two exams. (Photo: Rachel Ward)