MIT Banana Lounge reinstates 24/7 access
Lim: ‘The strong student voice for 24/7 access guided our advocacy and was heard by admin’
The MIT Banana Lounge officially returned to 24/7 tap access with an MIT ID Oct. 5, after a series of discussions between the Banana Lounge team and the Division of Student Life (DSL). The Banana Lounge is intended to be a space where students “can enjoy a banana, grab a drink, study, rest, play, and create” and is meant to “be there for students when they need it,” Banana Lounge team Logistics Lead Megan Lim ’24 wrote in an email to The Tech.
Lim added that the lounge was “built by students, for students,” and the team “serves to engage with, listen to, and serve.” She added that a common request from students is 24/7 spaces, seeing that they “work at all hours and seek places to do so.”
In September, 516 students signed a petition posted in the Banana Lounge in favor of allowing 24/7 access to the room. Additionally 592 (97.9%) of 605 respondents to a survey sent via dormspam in September answered that they wanted 24/7 access to the lounge.
Lim wrote that “the level of student responsiveness showed how meaningful the 24/7 issue is to students — every signature, every feedback box filled out, every conversation made a difference.” The “strong student voice for 24/7 access guided our advocacy and was heard by admin.”
“Student engagement like this — sharing experiences, voicing opinions, signing petitions, and getting involved — is how we build a better MIT,” Lim stated. She also expressed her gratitude towards Nelson and the DSL in “serving as partners” to make the lounge “the special space that it is.”
The lounge reopened this fall Sept. 2. On Sept. 26, the Banana Lounge team along with Undergraduate Association (UA) President David Spicer ’23 and Vice President Shruti Ravikumar ’23 met with the DSL, and 24/7 access was reinstated beginning Oct. 3.
The request for 24/7 tap access was based on “historical precedent” and aligned with “student access to other spaces, such as departmental student lounges,” Lim wrote.
During the 2021–22 academic year, a DSL policy change rendered the space unavailable to students via tap access between 2–6 a.m.; the change was made without consulting the Banana Lounge team. Since the closure in September 2021, the team has worked with DSL to return 24/7 access.
A pilot was suggested by Vice Chancellor and Dean for Student Life Suzy Nelson to “test the logistics” and “hear student feedback,” after the Banana Lounge team’s quarterly meeting in January 2022. There, the Banana Lounge team, in collaboration with previous UA President Danielle Geathers ’22, presented “a detailed case for 24/7 access.”
The pilot was agreed to on April 15 and set to run from May 2–18, 2022.
On June 22, the Banana Lounge team reached out to Senior Associate Dean for Diversity and Community Involvement Gustavo Burkett and DSL team members to revisit the issue of 24/7 access; access for the team was offered only from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. According to Lim, 24/7 access for students “was immediately denied as well” at that time.
The Banana Lounge opened April 5, 2018. Aside from a brief closure due to MIT.nano construction in the summer of 2018, the space was available to students 24/7 until September 2021.
Students interested in joining the Banana Lounge team or sharing feedback can email firstname.lastname@example.org.