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Calvin College Chimes

Practicing the day of rest

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Like many students, I came to Calvin for many reasons. I came because I could study the subjects that I wanted, I could study abroad, the student to professor ratio was excellent, the school was small (but not too small) and the location was far enough away from home (but not too far). Besides those things, what attracted me to Calvin was the community and the fundamental values on which it bases all its community and learning.

One of the fundamental values that Calvin has very thoroughly demonstrated to me is the practice of taking a day of rest. The fact that academics buildings close one day of the week is evidence of this to me, reminding me that I do not need to be a student 24/7.

Truly, the day of the week on which a person takes their rest does not matter. For me, it has made logical sense to take Sundays off because during the weekdays I am in class and Sundays I attend church. This special designation of one day of the week allows the body, mind and spirit to rest and rejuvenate, something that I have truly cherished as an engineering student.

On Friday last week, student news included an announcement that the second floor of the library would be open from 1 to 6 p.m. on Sundays until May 14. The announcement stated that the library was only providing the second floor as a study space and that regular library services would not be available. Earlier in the week, an email was sent out to me and all the other library student workers asking for a few of us to act as monitor during those hours in the library. Opening the library, even just for the space, requires the presence of a student worker.

My reaction to this announcement is a mixture of understanding, resignation and concern.

I understand that there is a need for students in the dorms and in the KE apartments to have other spaces, besides their dorms and apartments, available to them on Sundays. I remember as a first-year student, I often felt trapped, anti-social and alone on Sundays because I had nowhere else to be besides my room. Whether or not I wanted to, I usually ended up doing homework.

I am resigned to the fact that one of the most convenient spaces for students to use on Sundays is the library. It is a large space, has plenty of tables and chairs and is generally very quiet.

I am concerned that Calvin is taking steps that fail to demonstrate the practice of the day of rest. The choice of taking a day of rest looks different for each person and it is a personal choice, but as a school Calvin is supposed to demonstrate its values to its students and to the community.

The topic of opening the library on Sundays is complex and students, faculty, and staff have varying opinions. At the end of October last year, I wrote an article for the Chimes about my perspective as a library student worker on opening the library on Sundays and I still stand by that article. The main purpose of the library on campus is to provide students with easy access to the tools they need to do their work, not necessarily to be a place of socialization and relaxation. The library is a place of learning, study, and research, the fundamental concepts that define the work of a student. It is my hope that as Calvin continually develops that it may hold onto the fundamental values that attracted me to attend in the first place, even as it continues to strive to meet the wants and needs of its students.

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