Drew University’s campus is home to an array of beautiful spots hidden within each and every building’s walls. Whether it be tucked away in a corner of the library or on a picnic bench, there are plenty of places where Drew students can do their work in peace. However, one of the most coveted spots on campus, the S.W. Bowne Reading Room, is now off limits.
Last semester, I often found myself settled into the soft cushions of the Reading Room’s window nook, or perched on one of its old couches. The stained glass windows and warm lighting made it perfectly peaceful and a preferred spot to study. However, this wonder was short-lived. As of recently, the doors have been locked, as a result of the school’s graduate students closing the doors. The Reading Room is the designated study space for Drew’s graduate students but, despite this title, it often remains unused. While it is a fair request to ask that undergraduate students respect the space, as well as willingly give priority to the graduate students, it seems imprudent to completely block it from the public.
Beautiful spaces are meant to be occupied and enjoyed. Without public access, the Reading Room sits mostly unused, and why should it? The ability to have access to all rooms on our campus allows students to find places that make them feel the most comfortable, and allows them to do the best work they can. As I think about the beauty of the reading room, I recall the quote by C.S. Lewis that is painted on the stained glass of the reading bench window: “Someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” The comfort that this corner brings should be universally enjoyed and cherished, otherwise these hidden gems will be forgotten.
The wonders of the reading room should be accessible to all, in spirit of the dedicatee, who thought wonders should be enjoyed by all. Why lock up one of the most magical places on campus? Allow all those willing to climb the dark, humid hall steps to enjoy the beautiful rooms within.
Emily Cookson is a first-year majoring in English and philosophy.