Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 5
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Shut the Hell Up!: Counterpoint

Remember that “Quiet Please” sign that used to sit on a tripod in foyer of the library? If you’re a freshman, you probably don’t; it hasn’t been there all year, and that’s not only because it was stolen last year.

I see people getting shushed in the library all the time. Shushers think that because there’s a cultural expectation of silence in the library, they have a license to be as rude as they like in their shushing.

This may come as a shock to the shushers, but the library is no longer a place solely for reading and quiet studying. Especially here at Whitman, the library is increasingly becoming a place for social interaction and group work.

Talking is a huge part of the learning process, and isn’t the library supposed to be a place for learning? Talking needs to be permitted to facilitate learning.

I’m not saying that every part of the library should be open for talking; I know how important silence can be when trying to do something that requires a lot of concentration. In fact, I need absolute silence to accomplish just about anything: I’m one of those people, but I’m not a shusher.

But there is a place for me in the library where silence is maintained. It is called the Allen Reading Room, and the shushers seem unaware of it.

There is no reason not to use it; there are spacious tables, comfortable couches and a homey fireplace. Most of the time, it’s totally empty.

I can understand the argument that the reading room is not big enough to be the only place where silence reigns in the library. The solution however, should not be to make the entire library silent. Instead, we could simply make more areas silent.

Containing talkers and group-studiers in study rooms is not the answer. On an even remotely busy night, getting a study room is impossible.

I think that these shushers get so mad because they blow things out of proportion. The group of freshmen behind you fervently discussing some core text might seem like a huge distraction. It might seem that they’re being totally disrespectful, but in reality, all you need to do to avoid distraction is move a few tables away.

And the library isn’t nearly as loud and many of these shushers contend.   Sure, there are some chronically noisy places (the tables at the top of the stairs, on the third floor, for example), but much of the library is not only silent, but empty. The fourth floor is very often just as silent as the reading room.

So, seriously shushers: stop complaining. Accept that the library needs to be a place where people can talk.

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  • S

    ShusherNov 19, 2014 at 11:08 pm

    Perhaps people expect quiet as opposed to talking in a library, because it’s a library. The designated ‘silent room’ perpetuates silence as sonic, but does nothing to consolidate silence as the absence of human presence. In such a way, the majority of the library utterly fails. Contemplation, as a necessity of productive and thoughtful work, cannot occur properly as it’s not only contingent upon sound, but rather a lack of stimuli.

    Furthermore, why should someone who feels their autonomy within the library has been violated by loud late comers take the initiative to move? Under such an interpretation, in my opinion one more apt, this article’s analysis and specific rebuttal falls on its face.

    A better, institutional, solution would be to allow majors 24 hour swipe access to their respective academic buildings.

    Or, if the prior flushes out as logistically impotent, then increase the ease with which students can gain key access to a specific room in an academic building, by solely requiring a petition and Academic Advisor’s consent.