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Small group of students study during Hatch’s ‘soft opening’

(Sam Anderson/Collegian)

With the smell of fresh paint still lingering in the air, 10 students studied at the Hatch in the Student Union basement Monday afternoon for the first time since the former dining space closed in 2014.

Now, with a cafeteria in the corner still under construction and a slew of square tables and dining booths set up, it has been reopened for public use.

“I was just excited because it’s more space for students,” said Ryan Mahan, a sophomore studying computer science. “I guess I see it as kind of a social space, like the Spot [the central hub of the Student Union] is upstairs.”

Mahan, who had brought four friends along to study, is the chair of administrative affairs in the Student Government Association. He said he knew it would be largely empty on the first open day, and decided to tell his friends about it as a new place to study in.

Mahan said the new student space would be more publically broadcasted in the future, and that the area had potential for Registered Student Organizations to use.

“The cubicles on the wall are supposed to be spaces for RSOs, for their e-boards to meet,” Mahan said, referring to the small whiteboards on the walls next to booths.

Gaurab Pant, a friend of Mahan’s and also a sophomore studying computer science, said he likes the addition of the coffee shop in the corner, which was still being put together Monday.

“Normally when you’re in a working space you have to leave to get food,” Pant said.

Anthony Vitale, a junior studying economics and finance, was elected to the SGA presidency last spring with the re-opening of the Hatch as a major campaign promise.

Vitale said the re-opening of the Hatch was a major initiative for him because it was a tangible example of “one of the many things students can see the SGA has done.”

“The Hatch is something that will emphasize students’ lives,” he said, emphasizing the usability of the space for students in RSOs and leadership positions.

Vitale added that the space has not been completely finalized, and Monday marked what he termed a “soft opening.” He said after the final pieces of furniture were delivered and the cafeteria was finished by next week there would be a grand opening.

Vitale said it would make sense for RSOs to use the space later on in the day, as they begin to have executive meetings around 4 p.m.

“I’ve been using the term ‘multi-purpose’ a lot,” Vitale said. “We look forward to having students use it as a study space, as an eating space … But we view it as an RSO space in the later hours.”

The Hatch will be open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on all weekdays except for Friday, when it will close at 8 p.m. Vitale said this decision was because the area has to be staffed by cafeteria workers, and has less demand on Friday nights and weekends.

Oshiomah Oyageshio, a junior studying biochemistry, said he saw it was open because he follows the SGA’s Facebook page, which had posted about the opening.

“When I came here the place was closed so I never really knew what happened in here,” Oyageshio added. “I’m just happy the space is being used.”

Rubee Sandhu, a sophomore studying biochemistry and physics, said she walks by the Hatch often and came there to do homework because the Integrative Learning Center was busy.

She said it could serve as a good place to meet, because the W.E.B. DuBois Library is normally busy.

“I think you could definitely have events here,” Sandhu said. “This would be a good place to meet to do projects.”

Connor Ross, a senior studying chemical engineering, said his friend Jonathan Cohen, a senior studying mechanical engineering, told him it was opening as either a food space or study space.

“I said either way we go,” said Ross.

Ross said the whiteboards in booths could make it useful for group projects, but had aesthetic problems with the Hatch’s color scheme, visible ventilation shafts and lighting, as the shades were drawn on Monday.

Cohen added there were not many outlets available for use.

Vitale said that issues like the presence of electrical outlets would be addressed in the future after discussions with Auxiliary Services.

“One of the reasons we had a soft opening was to identify problems with the space and address them,” Vitale said.

Stuart Foster can be reached at or followed on Twitter @Stuart_C_Foster.

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