I am extremely privileged to be able to say that I don’t have any type of learning disability. I am, however, prone to anxiety regarding my schoolwork; I need a completely quiet environment to study. The third floor of Olin Library is the only space on campus specifically marked an Extreme Quiet Zone. According to LBIS’s own policy, “Short conversations in low tones are permitted, but longer conversations should be moved elsewhere.”
We sometimes forget that Kenyon is an academic institution first and foremost. If we are as open and understanding a campus as we advertise, we should not prevent anybody from getting their work done, or provide only an uncomfortable environment for them to do so.
I have tried everything to block out the noise, from noise-canceling headphones, to white-noise generators, to calming music playlists on Spotify — all to no avail. It should not be my burden to block out what is going on around me, or to gather my things and move. It is your duty as a fellow student to be respectful, and either end your conversation or move to a different spot. There are so many other places on campus where noise is acceptable. Peirce, the back of the bookstore and Wiggin Street Coffee are just a few examples. If you don’t want to walk outside and bear the cold, you can walk across the hall to third-floor Chalmers, which is not marked an Extreme Quiet Zone.
I have also found that some Kenyon staff members break these rules. I have heard librarians talk in tones much louder than necessary while trying to help students find books they need. Interestingly, LBIS’s policy states, “The library staff may speak to you about these policies, not to be the ‘noise police,’ but to remind you of our shared responsibility to each other.” While I have not spent my every waking moment in the library, it’s odd that I have not heard any library staff member comment on the noise level once, even when it becomes unruly.
The new furniture additions to the third floor of Olin are also frustrating as they seem to encourage talking. The circular arrangements of couches and whiteboards encourage group study in an area meant for extreme quiet. I have already seen my peers abuse the freedom these new furniture items allow, and it makes me quite worried for the future. Plus, why did we even spend money on this furniture in the first place, if it seems we’re just going to tear down Olin in the next few years?
Please realize that there are people who require quiet areas to get their work done. If I can’t feel secure in my ability to concentrate on third-floor Olin, there are really no other places for me to go; yet, there are so many other places for you to take your conversations.
Jessica Berger ’17 is an English and classics major from Baltimore, Md. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.