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Harvard to Open 24/7 Study Spaces for Graduate Student Reading Weeks

Lehman Hall of that Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences is located at 8 Harvard Yard.
Lehman Hall of that Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences is located at 8 Harvard Yard. By Sami E. Turner
By Angelina J. Parker, Crimson Staff Writer

This spring, Harvard will open 24/7 study spaces for graduate students for the first time during reading period.

Mustafa I. Diwan, a student at the Harvard Divinity School and member of the Harvard Graduate Council’s advocacy committee, became the primary sponsor of the resolution after working on a midterm on a Friday night and realizing that the Harvard libraries didn’t stay open overnight on weekends.

“I went to Lamont Library assuming that I could stay there and work until 12 a.m. And then we had to leave,” Diwan said.

Diwan said that because of the “funny internet connection” at his home off campus, “it was difficult for me to finish that assignment.”

Diwan also said it was likely other graduate students are facing similar issues.

“Many students would appreciate having open study spaces and libraries because most graduate students don’t live on campus, and many have WiFi issues at home,” he said.

After Diwan proposed his initiative, the HGC passed a resolution to collaborate with the Harvard University librarians to keep specific libraries open all day for two designated weeks in the period leading up to graduate students’ finals season.

Curneisha Williams, chair of advocacy for the HGC, explained that libraries like Lamont already stay open 24/7 for undergraduate students, but their reading periods don’t overlap with Harvard’s graduate schools.

Williams spoke to the Harvard University librarians and said there had been pre-existing misunderstandings about reading period overlaps.

“When it’s time for us to take exams, it’s not open 24/7, and they just didn’t realize that,” Williams said.

“We collaborated with the Harvard University librarians and got a list of the reading periods for every graduate school, and now we want to to open the library spaces 24/7 for the two weekends of the graduate students’ reading periods that overlap,” Williams said.

Williams praised the librarians for being “very cooperative,” noting that the HGC planned to announce the change in study space access by the end of the month.

In particular, Williams pointed to the importance of library access for graduate students who often do not have timed exams.

“We don’t have a lot of in person tests; we have a lot of 15-page papers and group projects,” she said. “So, we need that time.”

Correction: February 22, 2024

A previous version of this article mispelled Mustafa Diwan’s first name.

—Staff writer Angelina J. Parker can be reached at angelina.parker@thecrimson.com. Follow her on X @angelinajparker.

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Student LifeGSASLibrariesUniversityReading PeriodExamsFeatured ArticlesHarvard Graduate Council