Law School restricts access to Aikens Commons, Reading Room

Adam Schnitzer/Daily
Students study on Thursday, Dec. 1 in the Aikens Commons, which is now closed to non-Law School students after 8 p.m. on certain nights of the week. Buy this photo

By Sydney Berger, For the Daily
Published November 30, 2011

A decision by the Law School this week will restrict the times non-Law students can find refuge in the quiet of the Law Library.

Part of the west end of the Reading Room in the Law Library is now reserved exclusively for Law School students, faculty and staff. The Robert B. Aikens Commons is also designated only for Law School members on Sunday from 3 p.m. until closing and on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 8 p.m. until closing. The change was implemented on Monday, according to a Nov. 28 e-mail sent to Law students from David Baum, the Law School’s assistant dean for student affairs.

Before Aikens Commons opened on Sept. 7, there was no space for Michigan Law School community members to work together, Baum said in an interview this week. With the new restrictions, Baum said Law School students will be able to study in a more collaborative workspace.

“We want to make sure that Law students have access to Aikens Commons at the times of the week when they need it most,” Baum wrote in a separate e-mail interview.

However, Baum stressed that the upper and lower floors of Aikens Commons will be available to the general University community for a majority of the time the building is open.

He said the sign placed in front of the Law Library should effectively spread the message about the new hours. During the reserved hours, staff members will check students’ Mcards and ask non-Law students to relocate.

Baum said the new restrictions on accessibility during high-volume times are intended to foster an environment more conducive to learning.

“With the addition of the Commons, Law students for the first time have space right in the Law Quadrangle in which they can work collaboratively,” Baum wrote. “Having such an environment in which they can work together is critical to the quality of their educational experience.”

In addition to the study area restrictions, there will be temporary space limitations for non-Law students during finals weeks. The lower floor of Aikens Commons as well as the west part of the Reading Room will be reserved for Law students, faculty and staff at all hours during finals periods, according to Baum’s e-mail.

Second-year Law School student Carly Schlosberg said she supports the new policy because it provides more space for Law students to study. Schlosberg said she and her peers often struggle to find open tables and found it hard to concentrate with the amount of noise in Aikens Commons before the restrictions were put in place.

“It’s nice because you don’t have to go hunt for a spot in between all of the undergrads anymore,” Schlosberg said. “It’s only been a few days, but I would definitely say it’s been easier.”