From the Patio Moves to the Library as Exams Approach

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Students study on beanbags on the library’s third floor. (Photo by Rowan Copley)

It’s the least wonderful time of the year, so close to winter break but so far from finishing final papers, writing up note cards and sending in papers five minutes before deadline. We’re not exactly sure what it is, but it seems to be that the culmination of a huge workload, the frigid weather and the lack of energy to find a creative place to work has forced most of us into the library for extended periods of time.

There’s nothing better than spending your Sunday afternoon cooped up in the fishbowl, sike. But seriously, what better way to kick a hangover then sweat it out in the library—the library that turns up the heat to about 158 degrees. Thanks guys, but since it’s about 157 degrees below outside I’m warm enough in my shirt, long sleeve, jacket, scarf, mittens and boots that I’m wearing since it’s winter.

As freshmen it did not take long get a feel for the lay of the library: downstairs tables, downstairs computers/cubbies, and the dead zone i.e. upstairs. We’ve tried them all and this is what we’ve come up with–the library according to us:

The tables downstairs consist heavily of aggressive athletes and not-so-quiet studiers. This section is not for the faint of heart, or anyone who really wants to get work done. (Keep in mind we’re writing this from these very tables of procrastinators). This place is ideal for weekend recapping, stalking viciously via Facebook, just looking around to see who is there and awkwardly avoiding people you may or may not be avoiding after getting a little out of hand with cell phone usage the night before. It’s a small school and there’s no better reminder than a Sunday afternoon at the sports tables.

Venturing upstairs is a good idea when you have a ten pager due in the morning and barely have a thesis or you’re just trying to keep a low profile for a few days. It’s quiet, and there are couches. And here’s a little hidden gem we bet you didn’t know about—up in no man’s land, the third floor, there are beanbag chairs!

Yes, beanbags. And not those small round ones; we’re talking the big guys. So, if the noise downstairs isn’t enough to scare you up a floor or two, consider sampling a beanbag.  Warning: do not move them from their rightful place in the third floor study room, you will be reprimanded. And what’s more embarrassing than being scolded for borrowing a beanbag in the library? Nothing. Well, that’s not true, but it’s definitely top ten material.

The essence of the library ultimately lies in the books it holds, and the copious amounts of knowledge that can be found here is both priceless and overwhelming. What makes the library really great though, is not only can you walk away with the complete history of shoes or how much air pollution we suffer from, but also feel completely in the know about every party, bust, and mistake that took place over the weekend and throughout the week.

And so we wrap up our final FTP of the semester with a few last words (or warnings) about finals season in the library. The downstairs tables are loud, but despite the whispers and farts courtesy of the lacrosse boys, we’re all in it together. There is a sense of camaraderie that keeps us going when the chaos of finals is wrecking havoc on us emotionally and physically. However, if you find yourself so distracted, don’t fight the noise and go upstairs. God speed–the couches are friendly and the study rooms offer privacy but some us are all too often tempted to nap.

Good luck on finals and have a great holiday. Next time you see Mari, wish her luck spending her spring semester in Washington, DC. As for Lisa, we’re sure she’ll come back with great holiday stories to share from the patio.

Is a Sprinkler System on the Greens Necessary?

To the College Community:

I am writing in response to the irrigation system that has been installed on the Townhouse Greens.  Although the system may improve campus aesthetics, it runs counter to many of the ideals that we purport to hold as a campus community.  Saint Mary’s College has consistently made a concerted effort to control tuition in the interest of providing a high quality education at an affordable price.  In the current economic conditions, it seems that the College should be making every effort to control spending and cut costs on all non-essential projects.  That being said, it seems to me that the irrigation system is in no way essential and in fact perhaps detrimental.

The benefits an irrigation system are limited to certain circumstances such as graduation and River Concert Series, both of which do not serve to improve students’ educational experiences at Saint Mary’s. Both events occur when the vast majority of undergraduates are not on campus and therefore benefit very few students. Those in attendance are less concerned with the quality of the landscape and more concerned with the quality of the performance or celebration that they have come to participate in. This is not to say that the River Concert Series and graduation ceremonies do not contribute the overall atmosphere of Saint Mary’s, but instead those in attendance are not concerned with the triviality of the quality of grass under foot.

Environmental policies designed to protect the Saint Mary’s River and the larger Chesapeake Bay area have been largely supported by the student body and lauded by administrators as reflecting students’ overall conscientiousness.  Green initiatives have been widely accepted as necessary to sustainable development, and this eco-friendly atmosphere is part of what defines Saint Mary’s. If and when there is a specific need to irrigate the Townhouse Greens, this can be facilitated with the use of temporary installation systems, rather than a costly permanent system.

Beyond the reasons above, the irrigation system is representative of a deterioration in the accountability that the students feel in maintaining their community and the communication between the administration, Buildings and Grounds and the student body. The fact that the administration did little to notify the students of the plan and only did so when construction was slated to begin is indicative of a breakdown in these lines of communication. If administrators had outlined their concerns and intentions of installing an irrigation system, students would have had the opportunity to make a concerted effort to reverse their destructive behavior that has continually compromised the appearance of the greens and our campus as whole.

-Madeline Eberhardt ’08 is currently an MAT student

A More Effective Way to Pick Roommates

Wouldn’t it be great if with a few clicks of a mouse, any St. Mary’s student could find the following on the College Web site:

FEMALE SOPHOMORE SEEKING PARTNER FOR NEXT SEMESTER, PREFERABLY QUIET, WITH A LOVE OF ALTERNATIVE/ROCK MUSIC.

No, I’m not talking about a St. Mary’s version of eHarmony.com. I’m talking about a blog for finding roommates for upcoming semesters.

Remember those little forms we all filled out before our first year, rating ourselves on a scale of 1-5 for a variety of qualities (extraversion, organization, study time preferences)? For some of us, those questionnaires delved into our souls and matched us with our quintessential dorm buddy, making our college lives just that much easier.

The rest of us weren’t so lucky. For whatever reason, we decided to room with other people, and if we were truly unlucky and all of our friends paired up neatly without us, then we ended up taking a gamble during our next room draw.

This gamble becomes especially unfortunate in the scramble for suites and townhouses. If one of your friends decides to study abroad or become an RA and your four-person group for that lovely North Crescent townhouse you were expecting loses a person, what do you do?

If you can only find an arrangement for two people, then how do you decide whom to exclude? With the recent addition of student-run blogs to the school Web site, I propose another type of blog or other College site that allows a person or group to locate other possible roommates. If the College wanted to get involved, it could include a survey of some sort like the one given out to first-years, providing results indicating top matches for individuals without a roommate.

For those who don’t trust the usual survey, the Web site could also include discussion groups that students could use to post information about themselves (year, number of credits, personality) as well as they type of housing requested. Groups of students could also post openings in groups looking for townhouses and suites.

The Web site would provide a way for students to meet others with similar living styles, because even on such a small campus, odds are that each student can find at least one other person that they can tolerate for the 15 weeks in a semester. Heck, some friendships might even be formed.

Letter to the Editor: Serious Accident Should Not Lead to a Cross-Campus Bike Ban

On October 3, 2008 two St. Mary’s students were injured during a head on collision while riding their bikes across campus.

First-years,  Ian Burnstein and Larry Issac Emmerfield were seriously injured when their  bikes collided.  Ian was riding his bike from the Campus Center toward his dorm; Larry (also riding a bike) was coming down the big hill from Dorchester.  Not seeing one another, they collided at the turn at the bottom of the hill.

Because of this accident and a series of other lesser accidents, the administration is considering banning bikes on campus altogether.  This is ridiculous!

Granted, we feel horrible about what happened to our fellow students, but should all students be punished because of this unfortunate occurance?  We think not!

St. Mary’s campus is swarmed with bikes.  It’s part of who we are as a campus community.  Everywhere you look you see students riding their bikes, either for easy and fast transportation or for healthy exercise.

Stand outside the library or the Great Room and you’ll see at least seven out of ten students go by on their bikes.

It seems that the administration recognizes this fact, given that they have supported the free ride program and recently invested $14,000 for a bike shop in QA.

We understand that the free ride program failed because a few students caused problems:  taking the bikes off campus, vandalizing the bikes, even throwing them in St. John’s Pond.  And rightly, the administration banned the program.

But with the recent investment in the repair shop, it seems ironic to now completely ban bikes on our campus.

Personally, we are both frequent bike riders around campus.  And we recognize that the campus is small compared to other, bigger colleges and universities, but we all know how long the walk is from Waring Commons to Kent.

Using our bikes has been the only way to make it to our back-to-back classes on time.  We’re sure we’re not the only students who feel this way.

We would like to reiterate that we feel awful for Ian and Larry, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of these two students.

However, to Dean Bayless and all others who make decisions at St. Mary’s, please do not take away our bikes because of an accident.

One of our fellow riders, Hahndell (Amy) Barluski said it best:  “Take away our bikes, you take away a part of St. Mary’s.”

-Dan Incontrera ‘12 and Julia Malanka’12