San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

SDSU library’s quiet study room shifts to esports engagement center, mixed reactions among students

Conversion of the 24/7 quiet room into an esports hub sparks competing interests between gaming aspirations and the need for quiet study spaces
Victor Nyden
Keon Moore, assistant coordinator for the Esports Engagement Center (left), and Kyle Markel, President of Aztec Gaming Club (right), work together on one of the EEC’s new gaming PCs.

The San Diego State University Library Addition, known for its 24/7 accessibility during semesters, is undergoing a significant change as its only designated quiet study room is set to transform into an esports engagement center. 

While the university is embracing the world of gaming, concerns are being raised regarding the designated quiet study areas in the 24/7 zone, where students are reliant on an undisturbed study atmosphere. 

Brennan Pearson, a kinesiology graduate student, has been a regular visitor to the university library for the past five years, frequently utilizing the 24/7 quiet room. Upon discovering that the room he had come to rely on had been overtaken by the esports center, he was disappointed.

“Most recently, I’ve been studying for the LSAT. I’ve been going there very consistently through summer,” Pearson said. “Because the (main) library would close really early in the summer, I would always walk over there afterwards. So it’s definitely been a staple (and) really useful.”

According to Pearson, he used the quiet room not only for its all-day accessibility but also for the peace and quiet it offered. Unlike most study rooms in the library that require a reservation of two or more people to be in the room, the 24/7 quiet room seated 45 students with no reservation needed. 

While Jimmy Manikhong, a senior nursing major and avid gamer, enjoys the thrill of games such as “Call of Duty,” he does not plan on making the new center his gaming hangout.

“I don’t think it’s necessary. Maybe it’s a morale booster for some people, but not everyone,” Manikhong said. “I mean, they could just play at home or dorms instead of taking over a crucial quiet room in the library.” 

Overseeing the transition to the new center is Caryl Montero-Adam, assistant dean of Students for Student Life. She shares that there have been ongoing discussions with Randy Timm, dean of Students and associate vice president, and student organizations since last spring.

With the intention of accommodating diverse student interests, the university administration’s vision for the transformed space is to serve not only as an esports hub but also for social interaction and study. 

“When we were thinking about what our needs are at SDSU, we knew that we wanted an engagement center that would be community-based, that would be holistic (and) involve academics and research,” Montero-Adams said.

Engaged in the decision-making process, Associated Students President Tarek Morsy collaborated with Montero-Adams and others to shape the direction of the initiative. Morsy emphasized the need for SDSU to establish its own competitive presence within the e-gaming space in universities.

“When this university decides not to compete in burgeoning industries, it makes that decision at the detriment of students,” Morsy said. “The second decisions like these stop being made is the second that the value of the SDSU degree stops appreciating.”

Looking into the University of California, Berkeley’s esports, over 120 students are playing on national and international levels of gaming. Their notable achievements include winning the 2019 “StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty” championship and “Overwatch” competitions from 2016 to 2018, which pulled in an estimated $205,000 of scholarship money.

Montero-Adams emphasized the importance of establishing an engagement center at San Diego State similar to the esports programs of other universities.

“There wasn’t necessarily a central place on campus for esports engagement,” Montero-Adams said. “There might have been a room that could be used temporarily, but it wasn’t something that would foster community or be well rounded, and that was something that we were really hearing that our students were wanting.”

Kyle Markel, a senior business marketing major, is the president of SDSU Aztec Gaming — a club that won the 2022 CSU “Rocket League” competition. 

Markel said that the club looks forward to using the transformed space to “plug in and play.” 

Members of the Aztec Gaming Club join each other in a game of “Super Smash Bros.” (Victor Nyden)

“Everyone’s very excited to see it,” Markel said. “We’re supposed to — as a club — get more first dibs and have easier options. I like having access to the room for us as a club to be able to use the computers and other things that are happening in the room.”

However, the decision-making process was not without its challenges. Morsy considered the various competing interests between students and the university.

“SDSU Gaming (recognized student organizations) have expressed interest in creating this gaming center before I began my presidency. When I was approached to make the executive decision to approve the construction of the esports center, this was the only spot where the university could build it,” Morsy said. “When weighing my decision, there were three competing interests: one, the gaming students; two, the research and innovation department wanted to build a lab in the same area; and three, the users of the quiet study space.”

In light of the 24/7 quiet room closure, the library’s administration is in the process of expanding the fifth-floor quiet study area to cater to a larger student population. 

Patrick McCarthy, associate dean of the library and information services, detailed plans to expand seating capacity, projecting room for 200-300 students with new seating and desks.

However, because the main library closes at 10 p.m. on most days and as early as 6 p.m. on Fridays and 4 p.m. on Saturdays, the new study area might not fully make up for the loss of the 24/7 quiet study space.

According to Morsy, the change in the 24/7 area was a decision involving discussions with campus partners and an evaluation of available alternatives.

“Before I made my decision, I spoke to campus partners and did my due diligence,” Morsy said. “I confirmed that there were an adequate amount of quiet spaces around other areas of the library and that the research facility had an alternative location that was viable. Once I knew both of these other student interest groups were satisfied, I made the decision allowing the gaming center’s construction.”

According to a statement from SDSU, the upcoming center is still in development with a phased approach to the project, with the completion tentatively set for fall 2024. Though there is no set funding amount, 10 computers have been purchased for the space.

The esports engagement center’s soft opening occurred this past October, with the space available for students, faculty and non-SDSU members during the day.

About the Contributor
Hannah Ly
Hannah Ly, '23-24 News Editor
Hannah Ly (she/her/hers) is a fourth-year journalism major and marketing minor from San Jose, California. She serves as the news editor of The Daily Aztec and previously worked as a writing tutor of SDSU’s Writing Center, gaining exposure to different writing styles and genres. In addition to her editorial role, Hannah holds positions as Vice President of the Asian American Journalists Association at her university and as the editor for Cal State Student Wire, a CSU wire service. Her passion lies in empowering others through impactful storytelling and editing. In her free time, she enjoys being a foodie, listening to live music, playing poker and honing her pickleball skills.