Dear UMass, here’s a proposal for a new UMass Buildings App that could help us all

There needs to be an app that helps students find the right study location

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Alvin Buyinza / Daily Collegian

By Liesel Nygard, Collegian Correspondent

Too often as a commuter, I find myself wandering from one building to the next in the pouring rain trying to find a seat so I can get my work done. I always think, “This is what I get for being a commuter,” and yes, that’s true. But I’ve always heard that there’s an app for everything. So, hear me out.

Imagine if there was a way to check crowd levels in the W. E. B. Dubois Library or Integrative Learning Center before you walk there. Maybe there needs to be an app that details how busy a building is, what type of study spaces there are and their distance from you.

Does this concept sound familiar? In 2015, an app was created for the UMass dining halls and retail dining locations, enabling students to view each dining location’s current traffic, daily menu and more. If UMass created a system like the UMass Dining App, but for other public buildings, it might be easier to find open study spots.

The UMass Buildings App would have numerous visual and informational elements to help students find their ideal work environment.

Photos are a much-needed component of the app. Knowing what the place looks like before you go is important because you want a study space that is a good match for you. Visually seeing the building’s environment and aesthetic can help you decide which location best fits your needs.

Below the photographs would be a brief description of the building. For example, the Integrative Learning Center has sofas, tables with structured chairs and tables surrounded by cushioned chairs. Meanwhile, the library has quiet study areas for students who want to work independently and distraction-free.

A map that pinpoints your current location and highlights all nearby building locations is a must. This element would be extremely helpful on a day with bad weather when you might want to be inside. If you can look up the closest building from your location that provides comfy chairs, that would be easier than walking around aimlessly in the rain or snow to find somewhere to study. No one wants cold and wet feet!

Having a filter option would also be beneficial. UMass is a huge campus with many public buildings. Canceling out some of the building options using filters would make it easier to find a location that suits your needs. For example, if you’re meeting with friends, you might filter the app so it only shows spaces for group work. And if you want a private study space, you might filter the app for independent workspaces.

One day you may want a new spot to study but have no idea where to go. Sometimes, I get sick of going to the same building every day. I begin to get bored or uncomfortable and want to leave. It is difficult to find somewhere new, especially when you genuinely don’t know of any other spots. This app could help you find new places to study, read or nap!

Like the UMass Dining App, this system should include hours for when the buildings are open and when they are closed. The Student Union hours have presented challenges for many students. When I was with a friend, we didn’t know when the building was closing and had to leave before finishing our work. We knew, however, that Worcester Dining Commons was open until midnight because we looked it up on the UMass Dining App. Though we would have preferred to be in a more study-oriented environment, we did not know of any buildings open that had comfortable chairs and desks for us.

It is not fun traversing a large campus like UMass, especially in New England weather. Nothing is more frustrating than wasting time searching for somewhere to study. Winter is upon us, and that means everyone will be crowding indoors. Having an app that can direct you to less crowded locations with seating available will help save time and keep your feet dry.

Liesel Nygard can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @LieselNygard.