Student access to Hutchinson Commons was restricted this week to accommodate the University’s latest fundraising initiative, the University of Chicago Campaign: Inquiry and Impact. The main event was hosted in Mandel Hall on Wednesday, but construction and preparation for the event closed down Hutchinson Commons and Hutchinson Courtyard for the week. While the University’s fundraising efforts are commendable, the administration should have communicated better with students about the closure of Hutchinson Commons given its central role in student life.
Reynolds is a popular gathering place for students living both on and off campus. Given the centrality of its location, Hutchinson Commons often serves as a space for casual socializing, RSO meetings, and study groups. Restricted access to Hutch affects weekly student activities, and many students found themselves unprepared to relocate and rearrange their plans in response to its closure. This confusion could have been avoided if students were notified in advance of the restricted access. Though a flier was placed outside to notify the University community of restricted access, we feel this is insufficient notice in light of the area’s high traffic.
Furthermore, many students did not know that a major fundraiser was occurring on campus at all. If this information had been more broadly publicized to the student body, then the closure of Hutch would not have been a problem—the occasional use of that space for fundraising is reasonable. But without having received any prior information about or justification for this decision, students were left insufficiently prepared to adapt to the changes that they were forced to make. In the future, the University should give at least a few week’s notice to the student body before restricting access to major sites of student activity, and can do so through more comprehensive methods, such as campus-wide e-mails.
The inconvenience of the Hutch Commons closure is relatively minor. However, when dealing with similar situations in the future, the administration should communicate with students more proactively.
—The Maroon Editorial Board