img_4135Typically, finding a a seat in The Reference Room (also known by its street name “Ref”), can be as challenging as surviving Columbia’s demanding curriculum. However, during finals it’s impossible to secure a seat if you don’t head to Butler before 8 am. I’ve learned a few things after spending more time here than in my actual living quarters, and have figured out exactly what you need to leave at your seat to ensure a random sophomore won’t be there typing their CC paper when you get back.

  1. An open folder: The folder could literally be full of information pamphlets about Butler itself. Doesn’t matter what’s inside; just make sure it’s left open. It will take up more space, and will leave the impression that you’ll be back so soon, you didn’t even think to close the folder.
  2. Multiple open notebooks: Honestly one of those Moleskins is from last semester. But look at how studious I seem with two of them– both open– stacked on top of each other. Give off the impression that you need to be studying here.
  3. A candle: Butler gets stinky during finals so I actually bring a candle for when the people who actually haven’t left the library in days decide to congregate in Ref. But it also looks intimidating– who wants to displace someone who brought a candle? This leaves the impression that you plan on moving in.
  4. A half-eaten snack: Mostly because people don’t like to handle half eaten food and will be less inclined to displace someone who left behind food. Leave off the impression that you’re gross.
  5. Multiple perishable drinks: This is less-so you look gross (read #4) and more-so you look like you’re coming back. No one wants to drink a smoothie/ Naked Juice it it has been sitting for longer than 20 minutes. These have the same effect as the open notebook; it leaves the impression that you’ll be right back.
  6. A Bag: A big, concrete object like a backpack or tote bag signifies that you’re still in the building, or that you can’t be too far, because who can live their life without their bag? This sends a strong impression to Butler dwellers that not only will you be back, but you’re probably nearby and would see them displacing you (a displacer’s worst nightmare tbh). A coat, sweatshirt, or even bra will send off a similar message if you didn’t plan this step out well enough before you packed for your library trip.
  7. Multiple pencil bags: Who has three extra pencil bags and needs all of them while studying? Send off the impression that you’re crazy.
  8. Chapstick: Again, this appeals to the “gross” impression that you’re trying to give off. No one wants to move someone’s chapstick. Plus it’s so small, it could get lost during displacement, so the camper could cause a scene if one of their belongings is missing.
  9. Random bullshit: That’s a walkie talkie. Show people that you’re so desperate to save this seat that you’ll leave a walkie talkie.
  10. Someone else’s mess: Make your camp so large that it spills into that of the person next to you. The displacer won’t know what’s what and will get frustrated and give up. Give the impression that you’re complicated.