During the school year at Aquinas College, the first floor of the Grace Hauenstein Library is often bustling with activity. Students gather around tables with open laptops and books, poring over their notes and typing away at essays, but Aquinas’ library isn’t just a quiet place to study. It’s an ecosystem of easily accessible academic support and opportunities to build community. 

Thanks to the Study Tables program, if students get stuck or stressed while working in the library, a wealth of resources are only a few steps away. Faculty and staff office hours, peer tutors, and Writing Center consultants are there every weekday to support students.

“A really big part of Study Tables is showcasing community,” explains Sara Haviland, Director of Student Success. “Lots of students come to college and they hesitate to go to a professor during office hours, because they don’t know what to expect. Or they won’t go to a tutor because they never had one in high school. But when it’s on display at a table in the library, students get to see what those interactions look like.”

“The influx of students using the library during the day creates a vibrant, buzzing atmosphere,” said Christina Radisauskas, Library Director. “It also provides us the opportunity to advertise our collections and services to them. We're happy they're here!”

Two students talk at a table in the library with laptops

Starting With a Single Spark of Connection

The origins of Study Tables can be traced back to Aquinas College’s athletics department. Student athletes have certain academic requirements to continue to play their sport, including logging study hours. Prior to Study Tables, these hours were team specific and the locations where they occurred were scattered across campus. 

It was the men’s basketball coach, Ryan Bertoia and Writing Center Coordinator Julie Bevins who had the idea to attach a writing consultant to the team who could work with them during their study hours. Out of this collaboration, Sara Haviland saw something everyone could benefit from.

Over the last five years, Haviland has coordinated with the Center for Resources, Opportunities and Excellence which offers tutoring and Writing Center services among other programs, as well as faculty and librarians to bring together campus resources in one place. Student athletes who are required to log their study hours can now check in at the library’s circulation desk during Study Tables, but it’s not just for athletes. Anyone can bring their work to the library’s first floor and find academic support.

Casting a Wide Net On Campus

Chase Haggerty, a sophomore biology major and lacrosse player, is no longer required to log study hours as a second year student athlete, but finds himself at Study Tables all the time. He credits his work with the Writing Center at Study Tables as the reason he got through his communications class.

“I have friends who aren’t in athletics and they’ll tell me they’re heading to Study Tables,’” said Haggerty. “And I’ll say, ‘I’m going there now. Let’s go together!’ It brings our community closer and it’s a really great resource.”

Sara Haviland at a table in the library, smiling and talking

Faculty members also see the space’s ability to encourage students to approach them and prompt spontaneous connection as a huge benefit.

“It makes us much more accessible,” said Professor Kerri Orders, who teaches International Business and Marketing courses. “It’s good modeling. Students would see me talking to other students, and it gave them a little nudge to realize they could come meet with me, too.”

Dr. J. Satya Lendrum, Sociology Chair and member of the Women’s and Gender Studies department, agrees. “I've been able to have a lot of meetings with students who are not in my classes, but are interested in sociology or want to check things out,” said Lendrum. “This is where it all happens– in this space. It’s great.”

Throughout the year, many departments will schedule hours to be available during Study Tables, from the Registrar to Financial Aid. The Advantage Center has even hosted career fairs in the library’s lobby, so students on their way to Study Tables can interact with potential employers and learn more about their options post-graduation.

It’s an excellent way to get to know the campus community for first year students as well as new staff and faculty. Father Jordan DeGuire joined Aquinas College as chaplain this semester and already has hours on the Study Tables schedule.

“There's a lot going on in Aquinas– lots of people, students, faculty, staff,” said DeGuire, holding a bucket of snacks for busy students. “This is a place where I have an opportunity to meet people who I wouldn't otherwise run into.”

Two students smiling and talking with laptops and books

A Place to Grow

Perhaps most importantly, at Study Tables, students can learn that they’re not alone in the challenges they may face and it is okay to ask for help, whether from staff, faculty, or fellow students.

“College can be really stressful, and you save so much time asking for help,” said Grace Macguire, a senior Writing Center consultant who often works during Study Table hours. She jokes that she basically lives in the library. “I think it’s really nice being peer consultants, because we’ve been where the students we work with are now.”

What is certainly clear is that Study Tables is not just study time or tutoring. It’s a hub of connectivity on campus where students get acquainted with the many resources available at Aquinas, where they can share their challenges and successes, and where it’s safe to ask for help. Whether it’s your first week at Aquinas or your last, Study Tables has much to offer. 

Haviland is delighted to see so many students taking advantage of Study Tables, and welcomes everyone to her office for a chat, a snack, or anything else they may need. She’s also on Instagram @aqstudytables sharing tons of information and events both on and off campus.

“When I was an Aquinas student, I had a beautiful net of support around me,” said Haviland. “Through Study Tables, I am answering my call to develop this beautiful net of support around another generation of students.”

Study Tables run on weekdays throughout the semester on the first floor of the Grace Hauenstein Library during these hours: 

Monday: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Tuesday: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m

Wednesday: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Thursday: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Friday: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

If you’re a member of the campus community who wants to see the full schedule of what is available at Study Tables and when, join the Study Tables group on My AQ and open the Fall 2023 schedule under “Files.”