By Vin Steponaitis, Secretary of the Faculty
The Office of Faculty Governance (OFG) recently surveyed the faculty to gauge satisfaction with the use of the Anne Queen Faculty Commons in the Campus Y building. The survey was sent on September 26, 2017, to the UNC-Chapel Hill General Faculty. Of the 4,119 faculty members who received the questions, 557 (13.5%) responded. Based on their primary work location, an estimated 55% of the respondents were from the College of Arts and Sciences, about 17% were from the School of Medicine, 13% from the various professional schools and 7% from the UNC Libraries. A separate survey was sent to retired faculty, 55 of whom responded. Both surveys closed on October 16, 2017.
The survey of current faculty suggests a high level of awareness and use of the room:
- Nearly 85% of respondents knew that the Anne Queen Faculty Commons is open to faculty and staff across campus. Only around 14% percent of respondents had never used the room.
- Nearly half of the respondents visited the room at least monthly. The three most popular uses are: meeting informally with colleagues, using the room as a workspace and attending special events.
- When asked about enhancements to the room, respondents suggested providing free coffee and tea, holding fewer events in the room and adding digital signage to display the room’s availability.
We also asked for feedback on the room’s access policy and the recent installation of OneCard readers. The responses on both these issues were generally positive:
- By a three to one margin, respondents felt that the current access policy — faculty and staff only during business hours, students during evenings and weekends — is appropriate. The faculty who disagreed with the policy were divided in their comments: some wanted students to be given more access, while others wanted student use curtailed.
- Just over half of the respondents agreed the new card readers had “improved the overall atmosphere of the room.” Only 21% disagreed, and 28% responded “maybe.” The vast majority (84%) of those who answered “maybe” approved of the current access policy, so that was not the source of doubt. Rather, their comments reflected an ambivalence caused by the inconvenience of having to use a card, the propensity of the readers to malfunction (which has since been fixed), and the lack of a perceived need for the new gadgets.
A brief history of the Anne Queen Faculty Commons, or how the card readers came to be
In the 1990s the room that is now the Anne Queen Faculty Commons housed the campus convenience store, where faculty, staff, and students went to buy snacks. The Campus Y building was in a state of disrepair and serious consideration was given to demolishing it.
After some deliberation, UNC-Chapel Hill’s Board of Trustees decided in November 1998 to preserve and renovate the building, stipulating that it “include adequate space for the Y Court, a snack bar, and a faculty lounge.” Initially, the Board’s expectation was that the money to fund this renovation would be raised entirely from private sources, but by 2004 the development effort had fallen short. So the Board decided to devote university funds to this end, justifying the expenditure by noting the building’s multi-purpose use, including the proposed the faculty lounge. It was also decided then that the faculty lounge would be administered by the OFG.
Not long after the renovated building opened in 2006, the current access policy for the Anne Queen Faculty Commons was adopted. Signs were put on the doors that read “Reserved for Faculty and Staff, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m – 5 p.m.” In the early years, the signs worked. But over time, adherence to the signs slipped, and faculty began to complain. The situation came to a head in the fall of 2016, when the student-run Meantime Coffee Co. opened in the Campus Y’s foyer. The success of the coffee shop (a good thing) increased student traffic in the building, which put additional strain on the Faculty Commons. What had formerly been a trickle of students ignoring the access policy now became a flood. Faculty complaints about noise, pass-through traffic, and a lack of available tables and seating increased. So OFG installed OneCard readers in August of 2017 to control access to the room during daytime hours.
While most respondents agreed that the card readers have improved the atmosphere of the room, we recognize that some do not find them a welcome addition. Over the years, OFG staff were aware of issues with traffic through the room during the day, but were unsuccessful at finding a solution. Enforcing the policy in person was both impractical (in the staff time it required) and unpleasant. Additional signs reminding users of the policy were either moved, changed, or simply ignored. We consulted with the Campus Y students and tried every solution they suggested (other than abandoning the daytime restrictions). In the end, having tried everything else, we adopted the card readers as a last resort. Our experience has shown that card readers are the only practical and effective way to control access, so that faculty and staff can continue to use the space as a lounge during the day.
It is important to note that the room’s access policy has not changed with the installation of the card readers. Students are still able to use the space freely during evenings and weekends. The reservation system for events has also been simplified. All reservations are now handled through a single online portal administered by OFG, rather than the dual system involving both OFG and the Campus Y that was used previously.
Some respondents wanted an easy way to see when the Anne Queen Faculty Commons is reserved. Our room reservation calendar is available online and shows the full schedule of meetings and events. The room is always available before 1:30 p.m. on weekdays for informal use.
After we installed the card readers, some faculty and staff had difficulties in gaining access to the room. We believe the problems are now fixed and the card readers are working properly. If you have trouble with the readers, try the steps posted here. If the trouble persists, please call us at the number below.
As always, we welcome your questions and feedback. You can contact the Office of Faculty Governance at 919-962-7609 or email@example.com.