Bitter and Better: A Case For Quiet

Greta Kooy // News Editor

When I first sat down to write this week’s column, I had every intention of writing about procrastination and working under deadlines, something I’m notoriously terrible at. Just as I began to work in the upstairs section of the library, the “Silent Zone”, I immediately scrapped that idea.

I took my seat at a cubicle intentionally far from other students, hoping it would be far enough away from the sounds of way-too-loud K-pop or fingers furiously pounding keyboards. You see, I need silence to work and think. I have the luxury of living alone, which is why I typically work from home where I can think out loud and drink as much wine as I need to in peace. Unfortunately, my procrastination kicked my ass so hard that at this point the library was my only option.

I delicately opened up my laptop and carefully unpacked the contents of my bag, making every effort to be as quiet as humanly possible. It is the “Silent Zone” after all. Unfortunately, to my bitter shock and horror, apparently it’s not as silent as the name suggests.

I began to centre my focus on the blank screen staring back at me, hoping the words I had compiled earlier in my head would easily find themselves in print. That’s when I heard them, the totally unmuffled sounds of whispers and giggles coming from the cubicles I had mistakenly thought of as vacant. I quickly spun around in my chair, trying to catch a glimpse of loud mouths one and two, let’s call them Hal and Sal, fully prepared to send off an intimidating glare of discontent. Our eyes never met, but I had identified the demise of my focus. They continued, completely ignorant of the several people now scowling at them, so clearly annoyed by their lack of respect for others. I finally released a stifled “shut the fuck up”, unheard by Hal and Sal. My less-muzzled “I’ll cut you” did, however, catch their attention. Hal smiled, turned back to Sal, and continued to not “shut the fuck up” as I had hoped.

Let’s get one thing straight. Students come to this part of the Library to actually work. The quieter areas are reserved for those of us who need to get things done – we who lack the ability to concentrate when surrounded by hoards of people and the smells of their food. Now, not everyone works like this, some people need noise and people around them to focus. Weird, but true. This is why there are officially three work sections to the Library: the “Collaboration Zone”, the “Quiet Zone” and the “Silent Zone”.

The “Collaboration Zone” is located on the ground floor and is intentionally arranged for the purpose of group work and casual study, the bullpen of student success. It’s completely acceptable to talk in this section, although the University does ask that you be “courteous” and keep “aware of your volume level”. The “Quiet Zone”, which includes the Aspen Room, the LB128 Computer Lab and the Reserves Area, permits low-volume talking. This is a great area for those who need a slightly less active area to work in without secluding themselves from all the action of the main Library space. The “Silent Zone” is located on the top floor.

Post-renovations, there is now a great big door at the top of the staircase creating a somewhat isolated area apart from the rest of the Library. Loaded with individual work cubicles and rows of desolate bookshelves, it’s the perfect area to catch up on homework, cram for an exam or throw yourself into that essay you’ve put off for the past month. Unless, of course, Hal and Sal decide to show up and ruin your afternoon.

I realize that there are simple solutions to this problem. I could approach these girls and face them directly, but I’m too much of a coward to do that. I could also just move, which is what I ended up doing. But it’s not about that, it’s the principal of the matter. There are several signs posted on the walls of the “Silent Zone” that read, very clearly, “Absolutely no talking”. What is so hard about that? The whole campus is your oyster when it comes to talking and gossiping or whatever the fuck, so can we please have just this one space of blissful silence?

In conclusion, I beg you all to not be the Hals and Sals of the world. Be courteous, respectful and mindful of where you are and the people around you. And above all, please, shut the fuck up.

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