There I was in the Innovation Computer Lab before the start of a strategist meeting for The Rival. I was standing in the middle of the room — near those weird tables that only form a pentagon shape when you put them together correctly — speaking to Wesley about his article.
Suddenly, a man with balding hair who looked about thirty years old approached us.
“You guys are talking really loud and no one else in this room is talking,” he said looking directly at me. True, everyone in the room was working quietly except me and Wesley.
“This is a collaborative space, so it’s okay for us to talk here,” I said.
“OK and I didn’t ask you to be an asshole about it, but you guys are the only ones talking and no one else is.”
I attempted to interrupt him, but he once again said I was being an asshole about it. As he walked away, I said, “I’m not an asshole for telling you this is a collaborative space.” He didn’t respond.
The room was so silent, and everyone was staring at me. Regardless, I sat down at the trapezoid-shaped tables and proceeded talking to Wesley.
The interesting part of the equation is that you can talk in a normal voice in the Innovation Computer Labs; you don’t have to whisper, and you don’t have to put up with someone calling you an asshole for doing nothing wrong.
So, to avoid being called an asshole in public, here is an examination of where you can and cannot talk in popular study spots on campus.
1. Innovation Computer Lab (Third Floor of Innovation Hall)
Noise Level: Moderate, collaborative, tolerable.
I’ll start with the location in which some guy called me an asshole for talking in a normal inside voice. Fact: You can talk to other people using your normal inside voice while you’re in the Innovation Computer Lab. No one should be interrupting your conversation to tell you to speak quieter, unless you’re screaming like a five-year-old. And if they do interrupt you, you have every right to say, “This is a collaborative space, so I can talk in here.”
What makes a collaborative space? The chairs and tables in the Innovation Computer Lab are designed for students to work together, whether they’re meeting for their start-up company (#TheRival) or working on an astrophysics project or designing a new website or… you get the idea. The chairs are rolly. The tables are moveable. And there are multiple chairs at different tables. All of these things = collaborative space.
2. First Floor of the Johnson Center
Noise Level: Loud and unproductive because you’ll just end up staring at all the people eating greasy food and handing out free keychains at the kiosks.
On any given day, you can walk in the Johnson Center and not be able to hear anything anyone is saying. Occasionally someone will yell, “HEY AYISHA!” across the dining tables, and everyone will turn their heads to throw mad shade at Ayisha’s friend. Seconds later, people will shrug and turn back to their iPhone and Macbook screens. So go ahead, feel free to talk in a normal voice on the first floor of the Johnson Center. Just keep in mind that, if you do talk in a normal inside voice, you won’t be able to hear your own voice — or your own thoughts, for that matter — because everyone around you is too god damn loud.
3. Second and Third Floors of the Johnson Center (Outside of Gateway Library)
Noise Level: Super fucking loud and extremely unproductive — unless you’re passed out in one of those one-person cubicle things with a large empty Starbucks cup in your hand and a puddle of drool on your laptop, then you’re just sad.
Are you someone who studies and does homework on the second and third floors of the Johnson Center at all hours of the day? Because if you are, I have a few questions for you. First, do you have anywhere to live? Because I swear, I see the same people there every time I happen to venture through the large square tables and coffee-stained squishy chairs. Second, how do you get shit done? Are any of you actually working on assignments, or just goofing off and being loud?
Personally, I cannot sit anywhere on the second and third floors of the JC during the week. So, if you love chilling there and doing homework, please let me know how you accomplish life. Your sorcery truly fascinates me.
4. Ground Floor of the Johnson Center
Noise Level: Moderate and chill, potentially unproductive if you just spent an hour waiting in line at Starbucks.
The ground floor of the Johnson Center is pretty chill. There are lots of places to sit and a decent amount of outlets for my computer that dies every ten minutes. Added bonus: WGMU plays in that one little lobby area, so that’s fun to listen to if you’re lucky enough to grab one of the three small tables along the wall of the Bistro. If you have to get up to go pee, people are usually friendly if you ask them to watch your stuff.
Ground floor of the JC, I give you four out of five stars for being a pretty cool place to accomplish life tasks (minus one star for the lack of windows and slightly boring atmosphere).
5. Inside Gateway Library
Noise Level: Pretty quiet and pretty productive until someone yells at someone else to shut the fuck up.
Yes, I have heard someone yell at someone else to shut the fuck up inside Gateway Library. Thankfully I did not see who yelled at whom, as that would have increased the level of awkwardness. Regardless, it’s pretty cool to work on things in Gateway Library. But it’s a bit too crowded for my taste; I can only work in here for about an hour till I start feeling claustrophobic.
6. The Old Part of Fenwick
Noise Level: Quiet! Productive! Probably demons live here! *sunglasses face emoji* *thumbs up emoji*
ALRIGHT demons probably live here, if we’re being honest. Have you seen the bitches who do work in Old Fenwick? They will CUT YOU if they hear a peep out of you, or out of your phone. Like, they turn into something other than human. I’m 99% pretty sure it’s because they get possessed by the Demons of Old Fenwick.
The first siting of the Demons of Old Fenwick was reported when the first brick of New Fenwick was laid on the Holy Land of New Fenwick. Since then, Old Fenwick ain’t been the same. Since then, people get possessed by the Demons and will throw literal shade at you if you talk too loud or type on your keyboard too loudly. Beware Old Fenwick at all costs.
7. The New Part of Fenwick
Noise Level: Productive, but then you realize that everything is so magical-looking that it looks like it’s okay to talk in here and then you forget you’re in a library and everyone starts talking and it’s annoying.
Not to worry, there is always New Fenwick! If you want to work somewhere that is free of demons, just walk on over to New Fenwick, inhabited by rainbows, butterflies, and joyful students who love being productive and getting fabulous grades by overdosing on caffeine and pretending they have their shit together. New Fenwick is a magical place that encourages these behaviors in Mason Patriots.
There’s just one problem: When the people of New Fenwick get over-caffeinated and lie to themselves too much, they start talking to each other to ensure their sanity. As they talk, they forget that New Fenwick is still a library, and libraries are places for no talking! So you might as well get up and leave because the inhabitants in New Fenwick won’t shut up.
8. Anywhere in SUB I
Noise Level: Who gives a shit?
It really doesn’t matter what you’re trying to do in SUB I because people won’t give a shit. Sometimes they’ll yell or just talk really loudly, and sometimes it’s so quiet you can hear keyboard clicks from across the room. Best advice: bring headphones because who knows what you’ll hear (or not hear) in SUB I.
9. Johnson Center Starbucks
Noise Level: Whiny and crowded and pretentious.
“Ugh, this line is so long.” “I’ve been waiting here for FORTY MINUTES.” “I HAVE TO PEE.” “I said SOY caramel macchiato, UGH.” These are just a few things you may or may not hear in the JC Starbucks. Avoid JC Starbucks before you get suffocated by the whiny hipster wannabes who are losing their tempers and peeing their pants. Trying to study and do homework in this vicinity is like trying to hook up with someone on Yik Yak: It’s not going to happen.
10. Northern Neck Starbucks
Noise Level: Also pretentious yet reasonably productive.
Northern Neck Starbucks, ah yes… you are my friend. Your lines are much shorter than they used to be, and you have lots of comfy places to sit. Your number one problem is that you only have two bathrooms. Other than that, you normally have chill people working on stuff in here. NN Sbux, I give you four and a half stars out of five for being beautiful and awesome.
Hopefully this examination gave you an idea of where you are and are not allowed to talk on campus. Just remember, if anyone is calling you an asshole for talking in public, they’re the asshole, not you.
They might be even worse than an asshole; they could be a demon.
What are the best and worst places to study on campus? Comment in the sidebar or contribute to our site at firstname.lastname@example.org!