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My First Time In Butler: Pandemic Edition

Life is hard enough as a first-year, and then you put us into breakout rooms? That’s a bit much.

Sometimes, no matter how much people try to prepare you, try to warn you, you can never be ready.

This was one of those moments.

When housing was canceled, a mere two weeks before move-in, and with a stranger from Alabama primed to quarantine in my home, my world fell apart. The only remedy was, as an NYC resident, how close I would be to campus, to the quad, to the libraries. 

Funny how sometimes your greatest hopes are your deepest downfalls.

As a first-year, I was enthralled to peruse the great halls of Butler, snag a mezzanine spot in C.V. Starr, and discover the famed “big green seats” at Milstein. 

How was I to know the horrors that awaited? How was I to know to ready myself for my own demise?

To all of you prepare to mock me for my misfortunes in the library, I need to preface to you that your beloved halls of glaring lights are not as you once remember them. I was prepared for a stressful library environment. I thought, as you all do, that I knew what I was going into. 

But the only thing scarier than Butler is Butler in the days of COVID-19.

I reserved a seat in a room in advance somewhat arbitrarily, thinking that I would easily be able to find my way.  

‘Reserve a seat?’ You may ask. Yes, because not only are the seats numbered and assigned, they are set with QR codes for check-in and check out.  This is a new kind of monster.

After checking my ID, Green Pass, and reservation, I made it past a glaring Eisenhower, disgruntled by the end to his 6-month hiatus from being intimidating, and attempted to find my seat, when I realized it was filled with not only an upperclassman but an upperclassman doing a math equation so intimidating that the sight of it nearly made me transfer. After apologizing my way into my seat, I was confronted with the most oppressive silence I have heard in my entire life. As I attempted to organize my notebooks, pens, and laptop, I moved at a glacial pace, in the vain hope that if I moved slowly enough, no one would hear the seemingly deafening sound of me opening my backpack. Crisis near-averted, I noted pleasantly that there were chargers in the desk, and set to charge my computer when

I

Dropped. 

My. 

Charger.

To.

The. 

Floor.

The charger clattered so loudly I can assure you the entire building, nay, the entire empty campus, heard it. 

With no time for emotional recovery, I plugged in my earbuds to listen to my 250 person psychology course, where the professor decided to put us into 60 BREAKOUT ROOMS so we could all have a quick little casual chat about bias. I froze in my seat. Only one other student and I were on camera and no matter how desperately I tried to explain in the chat that I was in a library and could not speak out loud, but would be happy to type, everyone else refused to initiate conversation. We sat there in silence, staring at each other for five minutes. I don’t know if I believe in hell, but if I do, that is exactly what it feels like. 

With only four other students in the reading room, each somehow making a negative amount of noise, I was too nervous to type. The simple clicking echoed across the halls. With an entire six-person desk to myself, I craved the sweet sounds of a coffee shop, a study group, even an obtrusive roommate. 

The silence closed in as if the room craved the sound of students learning smarter, better, more. The lack of academic peer pressure had left a vacuum and the room itself had claimed leadership. The silence got louder and louder, Butler groaning for people to fight over 6th-floor seats, to request a book not really knowing what they wanted, to enter with the pretense of studying but end up really just watching Netflix.

Who was I, and where had the hundreds of students gone before they had a chance to finish their stories?

Racing out of Butler as fast as possible into the glaring sunlight, I dropped the class ceremoniously and lay down on the lawns to catch the last moments of summer sunshine.

Where it all went down via Bwog Archives

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