Jessica is running for Education Officer, here are her views on how we can improve our productivity by making our study spaces healthier and happier.
Health and revision. Not two words I would personally associate with each other on a rainy January morning sat in the basement of Brotherton. Allow me paint a scene… It’s usually 8pm, the light to my right is flickering and I’m surrounded by more books then most local libraries contain being no more ready for the exams then when I had entered at 9am that morning. In reality, I would describe my university revision experience as being; stressful, tiring and arduous and only recently, in my fourth year if my degree, have I realised that this didn’t have to be the case. The University libraries at Leeds, whilst having more plug sockets than you can shake a stick at, chrome fixtures and looking more polished than most shopping centres, have missed a trick in their conception. Student’s health and happiness.
This January, escaping from my usual spot in Brotherton West, I went to the Union to attend the Light Café. Honestly, I was more driven to go by the prospect of free tea and coffee and stroking a Labrador than by Lumie lamps. Nevertheless, I was shocked by the positive effect the SAD lamps had on my mood, fatigue and general wellbeing. I was as bogged down with work as I had been every January, but instead of leaving the library late, exhausted and having spent the day procrastinating, I left at 5 having done a full day’s work and feeling energetic and happy. The only difference from previous years was the study environment I had been in. This wasn’t merely just a personal experience, by the end of the two weeks there has amassed a group of regulars who swore by the effect of the lamps with space filling in Union rooms four and five rapidly.
What also worked about this space was the way people could eat and drink in the quiet environment. I didn’t have to scuttle away to Parkinson court, stuff a Bakery 164 down my face, and return to my desk within 20 minutes for fear of not being able to reclaim my spot in the library. In the Light Café I took regular breaks, drank tea and ate the fruit provided. I was happier, healthier and more productive thanks to the space the union created. I only regretted that it was a limited amount of space and only running for a limited amount of time.
What the light café illuminated (excuse the pun) for me was that the libraries in Leeds enforce an unhealthy way to revise, discouraging break taking and often ill lit. I want to encourage the university to repurpose pre-existing spaces to create a healthier environment for studying. This includes introducing SAD lamps into library spaces and creating more areas which allow you to eat and drink whilst studying. This could also be achieved through inputting some of these ideas into the building work currently being done in our union. The university and the union are spaces for students and thus should be designed to facilitate a healthier student experience.
Jessica Mifsud-Bonnici, running for Education Officer.
(Image courtesy of Lumie)