Hitting the spot

As I near the end of my collegiate years, besides having faced great evolution of both body and mind, I’ve been absorbed by an unconscious quest to find my “spot” in the Joseph Regenstein Library.

By John Connor

As I near the end of my collegiate years, besides having faced great evolution of both body and mind, I’ve been absorbed by an unconscious quest to find my “spot” in the Joseph Regenstein Library. My quest for a Reg spot is hardly unique; it is an expedition shared by many who frequent the libraries here.

One’s journey usually begins with the discovery that any true U of C academic boasts a Reg locker, the location of which unsurprisingly determines where you’ll likely study. But this can’t be without open consideration of new and better places. There are, after all, endless spots to study in the Reg, and it’s hard for one to feel that there could possibly be just one glorious and all-encompassing spot. Some Reg-goers try camping in the stacks, only to realize that the oppressive solitude is suitable only for philosophy gurus half-crazed from Red Bull and incestuous house-mates looking to get down. Others venture into the bleak land of cubicles and tables, learning that cubicles are good for focused individuals who aren’t claustrophobic and the tables suit those who need space and aren’t bothered by the occasional passerby who interrupts with a hello. So you work through different spots until you’re eventually satisfied and declare a single spot your home away from home. But the story doesn’t stop there—what happens when your spot is taken?

Let’s acknowledge for a second that walking into the Reg is drudgery in itself. Knowing that you have a 10-page Sosc paper that you haven’t started due at midnight also breeds excessive nerves, and to discover on top of this that your spot is taken is more than enough to make some students snap.

Take my experience as an example. I spent Spring Break writing my B.A. thesis, confining myself in stubborn misery to work in the stacks. One day, I stumbled my way into the Reg and found that my spot was taken. The sweat of anxiety hit me like a Fiji brother on steroids. As I passed the thief, I knew that I had to do something. So I pulled a token Jerry Seinfeld, cocked my head, muttered, “Ya stole my spot,” and continued down the hall a few steps. Realizing that it was a matter of life and death, I turned around and helplessly pleaded with the person who had robbed what was rightfully mine, insisting in desperation that I had to have that particular desk. After staring at me briefly in bewilderment, the student abruptly stood up, slammed his books, and stormed off. Perhaps what I did was not the best method, but let’s get serious here: What can you expect from a person spending their spring break in the Reg? For the U of C fourth-year, writing a thesis over spring break is the equivalent of preparing for the Rose Bowl. You can’t mess with someone’s Reg mojo on spring break—that’s just not cool.

People who maintain a spot in the Reg need to come to terms with proper spot etiquette. If one’s spot is taken, what options are there? Do we, as a community, force students to find a spot in the Reg and stick with it? Or do we encourage people to take a spot and not worry whether it was someone else’s? Some outsiders curse that students need to get out of the Reg altogether, but is that really the answer?

This has become a major issue and SG should take note. There have been cases of slighted upperclassmen lingering by their stolen spots and making a lot of noise until it becomes unbearable for that person to study, forcing them to leave. Others recommend simply asking the person to move, and the timid ones will simply work elsewhere. Either way, it’s a tough call.

At the end of the day, the quarter, the year, you’re asking people to move from their comfortable habit of study when you steal their spot. They’re learning and enriching their lives, and you come along and ask them to take a hike? That’s not the U of C way. There are plenty of spots in the Reg, so my recommendation is to sit down, study, and get over it. But if you’re feeling really sadistic, good luck.

John Connor is a fourth-year in the College majoring in history.