Hot Topic: Frank is the New Case

Studying is a fundamental part of the Colgate student experience. There are currently 3,228 students who devote hours upon hours each week to achieving success in the classroom. This begs the question — where do all of those students study?

For starters, first-years often flock to Case-Geyer Library. The novelty of this quintessentially collegiate space has yet to wear off on eager first-years. For precisely this reason, upperclassmen living off-campus tend to avoid Case. Sundays are the only exception to this rule. Trying to find a place to study in Case on a Sunday is almost as frustrating as trying to find a parking spot during Family Weekend.

As for the devoted STEM students who spend their free time in the lab, preserving the sanctity of the Ho Science Center study spaces is their top priority. Language students seeking refuge from pretentious STEM majors retreat to the Keck Center, a hidden gem located at the bottom of Lawrence Hall. The cozy, cafe atmosphere characteristic of Chobani Cafe and the O’Connor Campus Center (Coop) is often enjoyed by more outgoing students. In these spaces, conversations are welcomed and ideas flow over steaming cups of joe just as they once did at French salons. 

What if I told you there was a study space that boasts all of these attributes and more? A space that offers music and laughter for the socialites, peace and solitude for the dutiful scholars, and flavorful pastries and iced chai lattes for the hungry. This mythical spot really does exist and it is Frank Dining Hall, affectionately known across campus as Frank. At first, I, too, was skeptical. However, a rare sighting of a student studying in Frank opened my eyes to a world of possibility.  

It was 7:23 p.m. on a Thursday night and Frank was humming. It appeared as though every first-year, sophomore and student-athlete on campus was feasting in Frank. Even soothing whale sounds are not loud enough to overpower the din of a thousand conversations. I craned my head over the mob of hungry college kids and hoped to see chicken tenders, cornbread and maybe even some berries. However, the recent addition of color-changing LED lights to the food service area is quite disorienting. I briefly wondered if I’d accidentally stumbled into the Jug. But alas, the overpowering scent of french fries brought me back to reality. After jostling through the mass of students waiting in line at the pasta bar, my friends and I finally claimed the only open table. Happily settled in the far back corner on the other side of the cereal dispensers, I could finally breathe a sigh of relief. 

The moment I exhaled, a brightly-lit computer screen pierced through the steamy haze and caught my attention. Am I hallucinating? A brave student sits alone at a table strewn with binders, books and highlighters. Hoodie up, headphones in, this student is studying in Frank. To escape the cognitive dissonance brought on by this shocking sight, I make the reasonable assumption that they must be superhuman. How could they possibly be accomplishing anything amidst this mayhem? 

After interviewing several passionate students and studying in Frank myself, I realized that my previous judgments were unfounded. Not only does Frank provide a range of delightful amenities, but braving the hubbub builds character. Be warned, the following student accounts may come as a shock to library studiers. 

The students that I chatted with consistently noted the contrasts between Frank and Case. They praised Frank for its inclusive, upbeat environment and criticized Case for being the opposite: intimidating, somber and depressing. Frank, many students argued, has everything that Case does not. One student who I found tucked up in a relatively quiet corner of Frank actually used the word “oppressive” to describe Case. She also claimed that the lively hustle and bustle helped her avoid the distractions of technology, making her more productive.

Another student explained that watching their classmates relax and take a break from their coursework over a steaming slice of Frank pizza made them feel as if they were getting ahead. The student then admitted that studying in Case makes them doubt their academic abilities, thus plunging them into a negative headspace that encourages procrastination. This viewpoint was quite common among those whom I spoke with. 

Simply put, students enjoy studying in Frank because it makes them feel good for different reasons. Boosted productivity, fewer digital distractions and a heightened sense of accomplishment are only a few of the numerous benefits of a Frank study session. Maybe it’s time we all gave Frank a try.