The Hatcher residence at Memorial University’s Paton college apartments that was closed down for students as a residence back in August has opened a Learning Commons and Cafe on the main floor.

Bruce Belbin, director of Student Residences, said that the commons were built to increase the learning support for students on residences by giving them an easier place to study. This is the latest addition to what Belbin calls the ‘Learning Commons’ model.

“The Learning Commons model at Memorial has been in existence and extremely successful for a few years,” said Belbin.

“Last year, when we reviewed that structure and looked at reinvesting to update the technology and improve student supports, we realized an opportunity to partner with the Learning Commons project itself. By centralizing all the technology supports in one area, we knew we could better support students.”

The renovations to construct the commons cost $32,000, but has come in under budget.

Hatcher House closed down its doors as a residence back in August due to a 22 per cent occupancy rate which resulted in the closure of the house for students to stay in for the 2016-17 academic year.

Belbin said that the decisions to Hatcher house closure as a residence and to build the commons are unrelated, and that the idea of the commons was planned during the previous winter semester. Belbin said that the plan is to still reopen the house if demand for occupancies increases.

“As we have always said, we did not take lightly the decision to take Hatcher offline this year. Should student demand increase, we would happily reopen Hatcher House as a traditional residence,” he said.

“The [Hatcher Learning Commons] has been developed as a vastly improved support program for residence students, but is open to all students, faculty, and staff at Memorial. It is intended to be a learning centre, with synergies that come from the work of individual students, group work, tutoring and social space.”

Since the house closed its doors as a traditional residence last summer, five students have moved into Burke Residence and the other fourteen have moved into other houses in Paton and Macpherson colleges.

Sydney Vidito, one of the five residence students that has moved to Burke house, said that opening a Learning Commons is more convenient for students on residence who can’t access the Library after midnight.

“I believe that it’s great for students to have a closer and more easily accessible place to study other than the library,” said Vidito.

“It was a very good decision to open the area as a study commons for students because it’s more useful than the previous plan of renting it out would’ve been.”

Vidito said that while she supports the decision of the commons, she feels that closing the dining hall has had a negative effect on students.

“Without a second dining hall, there are less options for students with dietary restrictions,” she said.

The Hatcher Learning Commons is open seven days a week from 2pm-2am and is located on the main floor at Hatcher house.