By: Sophie Hunt

The first few weeks of school are when I miss my spot on the couch at home the most. Especially when the only seat I can find during my four-hour break is on the floor of the JHE basement.

As an off-campus student, it is incredibly difficult to find a place to put my feet up and neglect to do my homework. With roughly thirty thousand students currently attending the university, there is a surprising lack of seats to accommodate students who have nowhere to go in between classes. Many of the spaces on campus designated for student use are either always full, or lack enough furniture to accommodate the number of students looking for a spot to sit.

The hunt for a quiet space to study, hang out with friends and even eat my lunch is one that I have tried to perfect over the course of my time at Mac. I’ve learned to accept the fact that I will most likely have to resort to using loud music to drown out the constant noise that is usually associated with communal study areas, if I can find a spot at all. And I know many others who experience the same thing.

Despite student complaints and half-hearted promises made by the McMaster Students Union, not much has been done to create more student-friendly spaces on campus. There was some discussion about expanding the Student Centre when the MSU had a surplus of $1 million in their budget in 2012. But as of yet, there has been no concrete attempt to follow through with a plan to increase the amount of space available for student.

So what alternative do students have?

Roomer, an app available for download on Android phones, allows students at McMaster, Waterloo, and Western to find available lecture halls and tutorial rooms throughout the school day. After some extensive testing, I have discovered the app to be fairly accurate (and by testing I mean choosing random rooms within a short walking distance and cautiously peeking through the window on the door). It uses McMaster’s master timetable to look for available rooms on campus. It does not, however, account for any changes made to class locations throughout the term.

The app includes all of McMaster’s main buildings and covers all rooms in each building, allowing students to choose where on campus they want to spend the duration of their break. Whether students want to meet to work on a group project, hang out with their friends, or even get some quiet studying done, this app allows anyone to easily avoid crowded communal areas in favour of a room more separate space.

Roomer is a good start, but McMaster is going to need a lot more than an app to accommodate the constantly growing number of students in search of a place to spend their breaks in relative comfort. Whether the university decides to add another communal seating area, expand the Student Centre, or even invest in better furniture for the areas that already exist, something needs to be done to give students a constructive space to spend their free time when they have no where else to go.

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