Eckstein Hall limits undergraduate access

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Finding the motivation to study is hard enough. But spying a suitable study spot is even harder. With open tables at Raynor Library being a rare sight, some students have been flocking to the newly opened Eckstein Hall to study this semester.

However, study space is at a premium once again after Marquette University Law School began enforcing a new policy aimed at combating undergraduate overcrowding.

Floors three and four are now closed to undergraduate students on weekdays after 4 p.m. The floors will be inaccessible to undergraduates on the weekend as well.

Joseph Kearney, dean of the Law School, said the policy was enacted after Law School officials saw no other option in controlling overcrowding.

“On some days, as many as 400 non-law students were coming into Eckstein Hall,” Kearney said. “The resultant overcrowding was unhelpful, as was noted to the Law School administration by students.”

Kearney sent out an e-mail notifying law students of the policy change last week.

Kearney said overcrowding was also an issue at Sensenbrenner Hall, the Law School’s former home. The design of Eckstein Hall allowed for the Law School to control access if the situation arose again.

“We designed the building so that card-key access could be required at certain times for floors three and four,” Kearney said.  “We nonetheless determined to live in the building for a while before we drew any conclusions. By the middle of this month, it was clear that we needed to make a change.”

Kearney said although the policy is more restrictive, undergraduate students are still able to study in and use the Law School facility.

“I have been unwilling to prohibit non-law students from the building,” Kearney said. “They are welcome, during the more than 100 hours a week that Eckstein Hall is open.”

This is in contrast to several other schools that Kearney said have more restrictive policies. He said the dean of another Jesuit law school told him only law students are permitted to use the law school facilities.

“By opening all floors to undergraduates until 4 p.m. on weekdays and most of the building to undergraduates whenever the building is open, we hope to strike a balance that will meet the research needs of all Marquette students,” Kearney said.

While the policy is just being enacted, Kearney won’t rule modifications to the policy out.

“In terms of the duration of the new policy, we will gain some experience with it and, as circumstances warrant or suggest, make appropriate adjustments,” Kearney said.

Some law students said it wasn’t necessarily the amount of undergraduates using the facility that raised concerns, but rather their behavior.

“I really didn’t see the overcrowding as much of a problem before I heard about the new policy,” said Kevin Rynders, a third-year law student. “But the problem arose when students started using the group and reading rooms too much.”

Steven Chesebro, a third-year law student, echoed the sentiment.

“Undergrads would use the group rooms for long periods of time,” Chesebro said. “Some groups would be talking for a long time and disrupt the other students studying around them.”

While the new policy may prove an inconvenience to some, others don’t see it as a big issue.

“Personally, I don’t study there and really don’t feel it’s that unfair to regular undergrads,” said Michael Aleshire, a junior in the College of Business Administration. “Law students should have priority to the law school, and it’s not like undergrads are completely barred from using the new facilities.”

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