In Defense Of: Breathing In Butler
Written by Ross Chapman
It’s 2 am on Monday morning, and you’re working on a particularly hopeless 10-page paper. You’ve staked out the perfect seat in Butler Library – optimal lighting, plenty of table space, and far enough away from the bathroom that leaving your seat to pee feels like a break. The room’s silence keeps you in the zone, and you think you’re about to make a breakthrough until something terrible breaks your train of thought. Listen closely – you can hear it too, can’t you? In the distance, a student breathes. Sighing, you tab to your email, to ask your professor for an extension.
If this sounds like you, you might need to calm down and let people live.
Some Columbians hold their fellow library guests to more than a simple Butler code of etiquette. The slightest motion becomes a distraction, and any noise sets them off. Columbia should have good study spaces, but recognize that everyone uses and is allowed to use our libraries, and that the buildings might not be as silent as catacombs.
Let this be a reminder: when people are studying in Butler, they are also living in Butler. They breathe, they sneeze, they occasionally spill their water bottles. Extend the benefit of the doubt to your fellow students. Maybe the person with a runny nose can’t study in their room because of a nearby party. Maybe the one whispering to their friend is trying to figure out how to finish a problem set. We all make noise sometimes. Columbia already does enough kicking people out of Butler – you shouldn’t also make the space any less welcoming.
The library is quiet enough. Any attempts to make a more enforced “quiet zone” would require a secret police force to drag away students if they accidentally dropped a pencil on the floor. Let people live, and let people breathe.