Professors institute tech-free study halls


Two members of the University of Dallas faculty, Dr. Kathryn Davis and Dr. Lance Simmons, have instituted their own weekly tech-free study halls to encourage better study habits. 

Davis, assistant professor of English and Writing Program director, inventively named her study hall the Diogenes Club, inspired by Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes mysteries. 

“A. C. Doyle decided to invent a gentlemen’s club but the one stipulation is that there’s no talking,” said Davis.“It’s for people who are antisocial but still want to be part of a community.”

Davis laughingly admitted that her motivation to establish her tech-free study hall was self-serving. 

“I find that I get my most efficient work done when I’m around other people.”

“Here are all these students, some of whom are extroverts and they need to be reigned in a little bit,” Davis said. “Others are like me and they work well with other people around, but without talking and distractions.” 

Both professors have admitted that they can struggle focusing on their work, the same as students. 

“When I’m in my office I sometimes get distracted by emails or what’s on my phone,” said Simmons, professor of philosophy and director of the ethics concentration. 

Simmons had heard about Davis’ club through a faculty email. 

“I thought that would be a good idea, so I did it.”

Their own distractions caused by technology inspired the professors to add one rule to their study halls: no phones or laptops allowed. 

“We have this addiction to technology that is distracting us so much that we aren’t just sitting down with a book anymore,” Davis said. “I thought it would be great to have a time and a place for people to have a freedom from the tyranny of technology. We have a difficult time being moderate with [technology].”

Simmons commented on the visible effect that technology has on his students. 

“I have noticed over the past couple years, particularly with freshmen, you can see them spontaneously reaching for their phones,” said Simmons. “And then they have to bring themselves back.”

Both professors, as well as some students, have found this no-tech approach to be beneficial. 

Sophomore English major Amanda Heinzler has attended Davis’ Diogenes Club and found it to be a very positive and productive experience, especially because she finds herself often distracted by her phone and her friends. 

“I’m the kind of person that it’s good for me to be around other people because it makes me more motivated to do my own work,” said Heinzler.“It was just a group of people sitting around reading, it was really casual, it was nice not having to talk to anybody.”

Not only do these study halls help students like Heinzler, but Davis also sees that they are furthering the university’s academic mission. 

“At UD . . . you can’t get by without sitting down with a book, you can’t flourish here without doing that work, and that goes for professors too,” said Davis. “We are proud of ourselves for our intellectual pursuits at UD and we have to keep that alive and the only way we can is by reading and re-reading . . . [we need to] put our time where our mouth is.”

Simmons’ study halls are held on Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. to 10:50 a.m. in SB Hall 125, and on Tuesdays from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., Davis holds her Diogenes Club in Braniff 202.


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