I walked in and heard a roar. People jumped to their feet, hands thrown in the air, shouting and screeching. I’m not talking about a game-winning field goal at Muddy Waters Stadium, or the Dawn Tibbetts Potter Arena erupting when a Charger hits a three-pointer. Unfortunately, I’m talking about a typical day in the Mossey Library.
For some, Hillsdale’s library is a hangout spot, a place to meet friends, and goof around for the evening. Hillsdale’s library culture must change: The library should be a place to study.
One night during finals week last semester, a friend and I hit the library to study after dinner. We sat down, pulled out our books, and heard an explosion of noise from across the room. Was something wrong? Was someone injured, or having a heart attack? It turned out to be a group of students crowded around a table having a grand old time.
My friend threw on his Bose noise-cancelling headphones — a $200 piece of technological excellence — and started blaring music. But not even Tchaikovsky could cover up the ruckus. About 30 minutes later, he looked up and said, “This debate is the worst.” And he was right: The freshmen had begun debating libertarianism versus conservatism, treating the library as their stage and its patrons as their audience. There are few things worse than listening to first-semester freshmen debate political philosophy.
To my right sat another table of library groupies. One whipped a massive knife out of his pocket and slapped it down on the table. “I carry this bad boy with me at all times,” he proclaimed. Across the room, one of my friends sat at a table trying to study. She had headphones on, but also clasped her hands tightly against her ears in a futile attempt to drown out the noise. I texted her later that night about our shared misery. “I had to leave,” she replied. “It was just too loud.”
In a way, it’s confusing: Hillsdale College boasts a beautiful campus with a bustling student union, numerous dorms and dorm lobbies, off-campus houses and easily accessible classrooms, all of which are perfectly appropriate spots to spend time with friends. But even with these great alternatives available, some students — primarily freshmen, but not exclusively — still treat the library like Simpson’s lobby or A.J.’s Cafe.
Sometimes studying ought to be social. Working through study guides as a group or running through flashcards is a great way to learn. Hushed discussions which remain conscientious of others are just part of the nature of the first floor, and rightfully so. But that’s different from freshmen guys competing to impress the girls at their table, each of them forcing the next performer to raise the volume, while the girls giggle and egg them on.
This is by no means a unique phenomenon. My friends seem to share my complaint.
“The library is unbearable,” one friend told me at lunch. “I can’t even go there to study anymore,” said another.
“Library” comes from the Latin word “librarius.” It means “relating to books.” As for the screams and shouts, Hillsdale students ought to save those for the basketball games.