Study Space Series: A ‘home away from home’


By Kyla Gardner

Group projects can be the bane of some students’ existence. Where to meet? At what time? Who’s going to get stuck making the PowerPoint? This week’s featured study space is one of the best places for group work on campus.

Follow the Northern Star through its weekly installment of the best places to study on campus and around DeKalb.

“It’s a great place to learn,” said Dennis Barsema, instructor in the College of Business, about Barsema Hall.

Barsema and his wife Stacey donated $20 million to NIU in 2000 for scholarships and the construction of the building, which was completed in 2002.

Barsema Hall is a popular place for business students to get together for group projects. Mark Misic, director of technology for the College of Business, said the nature of business assignments was taken into consideration when designing the layout of the building.

“Our college has tons of group work,” Misic said. “We felt inclined to provide space [for students] to meet and discuss things, which can be difficult in a library setting.”

Junior accountancy major Lauren Anderson met fellow students for a project Wednesday afternoon. She said she often spends all day at Barsema Hall because it’s easier to study there than at home.

“Business majors…all have a really hard work ethic,” she said. “It’s quiet here. People don’t come here…to hang out, they come here to do work.”

The building features multiple computer labs, the Three Sons Cafe and an atrium with booths and tables. Large windows allow a lot of natural light into the three levels of the building.

Misic said Barsema Hall has complete wireless access.

“Most academic buildings don’t have coverage that we have,” Misic said.

Outside of the atrium is the Harold and Linda Barsema Terrace, named after Dennis Barsema’s parents. The pond the terrace overlooks is called Dad’s Pond after Barsema’s late father.

In the spring, students sometimes sit studying on the East side of the pond in a large grassy area, Barsema said.

On the third floor, there are nooks in the four corners of the building that have nice views and comfortable chairs, Barsema said.

“I go up there sometimes myself if I need to focus and concentrate,” he said.

Nick Pontarelli, junior business administration major, studied in one of the third-floor nooks Wednesday afternoon.

“Someplace quiet like up here is ideal,” he said.

He enjoys studying in Barsema Hall in-between his classes.

“It’s quiet, there’s comfortable seating, a professional [atmosphere], and it’s the nicest building on campus,” he said.

Barsema said there are both pros and cons of the location of the building on campus.

“Because of the fields behind us and [that we’re] across the street from residential homes, we’re part of the community here,” Barsema said.

But the building is also far from the other academic buildings and the Holmes Student Center, he said. It was Stacey Barsema’s idea to create the cafe and atrium area for students to allow them to be able to spend the whole day there if need be.

Senior accountancy major Ha Nguyen said she likes to study in the building at night because it is quieter and the street parking allowed after 7 p.m. is convenient.

“You have Internet, it’s comfortable, you have everything,” Nguyen said.

Comfort was a feature several students said they enjoyed in Barsema Hall.

“The biggest comment that I tend to get from students who come over here from DuSable or other buildings on campus is that the chairs are comfortable,” Barsema said.

Barsema said he has been proud of how students have taken care of the building over the years.

“Students who come here from other parts of the college really enjoy being in the College of Business,” Barsema said. “It really is their home away from home.”