Banana Lounge reopens to students after ‘back and forth’ with DSL

Banana Lounge team: access from 7 a.m.–11 p.m. alone ‘not quite what we wanted’

The Banana Lounge (26-110) is open to students again, according to an email from the Banana Lounge team to the MIT Community Aug. 2. Students can expect the Lounge to be stocked with bananas and drinks regularly beginning Sept. 2.

Located in Building 26, the Banana Lounge is a student social space dedicated to “stress relief, collaboration, and community,” according to the Undergraduate Association (UA) website.

In the email, the team wrote that the MIT Administration “agreed to grant student access” 7 a.m.–11 p.m, but also noted that this alone was “not quite what [the team] wanted.”

Banana Lounge Logistics Lead Megan Lim ’24 elaborated in an email to The Tech, stating that “for the last year, the Lounge has been unavailable to students via tap access between the hours of 2 and 6 a.m.” Previously, the Banana Lounge had been open 24/7 from its launch in April 2018 until a DSL policy change in Fall 2021. 

Lim wrote that the team had been working with the Division of Student Life (DSL) for “over a year now” trying to return to the original 24/7 student access to the Lounge. She shared that the team dormspammed a poll March 18 asking students if they wanted 24/7 access to the Lounge, to which 97.9% of respondents (592 out of 605) indicated yes. 

Lim also wrote about the process of working with the DSL on reopening the Lounge after the end of the semester, pointing out that the Lounge is designed as a space for students, a significant number of whom participate in the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program on campus during the summer. She noted that “with most dorms closed, available social spaces are at a minimum,” and that the Lounge has been open in past summers, providing students a space to “hang out, get some work done, meet with friends, and escape the heat.”

The team brought up a request to keep the Lounge open over the summer with the DSL on May 27; the request was denied, and opening the Lounge for the summer would “take another month and a half of back and forth.”

The team sent out a survey to the student community June 2, asking “Do you want Banana Lounge to be open via tap access during the summer?” The survey also gave respondents the chance to leave their Kerberos username, hoping to use the Kerberos “as petition signatures.”

Respondents answered similarly to the March survey, with 96% (177 out of 184) indicating yes.

Lim wrote that the team again requested admin to open the Lounge to students “mid-June,” citing “the substantial student interest and support from UA President David Spicer and Vice President Shruti Ravikumar.” The DSL again denied the request, while granting access for “a few team members, and only for limited hours (7 a.m.–7 p.m.).”

The DSL would finally agree to open the Lounge for all students in “early July,” with Banana Lounge team members agreeing to close it temporarily for any summer maintenance and renovations. The team would then send out an email notifying the student body of their access in early August. Lim commented on the delay in notifying the student body, writing that the team “wanted to organize the room a bit more before announcing” and that “it took longer than expected to coordinate and work on the space.”

Upon securing access for all students, the team is now looking forward, planning to discuss the 24/7 access issue “and more” with the DSL. The team encourages students to stay engaged and to share their thoughts by reaching out to