Deandra Lieberman, Staff Writer
If you think you’re going to get that essay written in the Cap Bar, I’ve got an invisible puppy to sell you. Your friends walk through the Cap Bar, and you’re probably going to talk to them. Hours of your day will vanish, and you will replace them reluctantly with hours of your now-sleepless night. For many students, such incidents prove a daily burden, and are the wellspring of many deep regrets. But other students, who do work hard, often grow restless from constancy of setting. For both parties, a change of locale might be in order. Happily, at the University of Dallas, there is no dearth of places in which to study.
You could, for instance, do your schoolwork in whatever place seems the most unsuited to your present object of study. For example, if you are an English major and seek to read poetry in the Cap Bar or on the third floor of Braniff, the people around you will actually be interested in what you’re reading. Worse still, you’re more likely to have classes with these people, and people love to discuss classes. If you decide to read that poetry in the physics students’ lounge, however, ain’t nobody gonna wanna hear about that funky tetrameter.
Even if you do know people who belong to the department, the awkwardness of your presence may discourage them from striking up conversation – but if they do speak to you, just describe your homework in the most technical terms possible until they go away, disgusted. Ultimately, your own discomfort at being confronted by practitioners of disciplines far beyond your ken will not only make you assiduous at completing your work in a timely fashion, it may also make you love whatever you are studying even more – albeit defensively, as though the people around you had insulted it simply by studying other subjects.
If you thought that the classrooms and cafeteria existed solely to provide fodder for your mind, your body and your complaints, you’ve been missing out on a great resource. Since the dining room never closes, there’s no reason for you to leave when the food does. Work there; or try staking out a classroom sometime after evening classes have concluded. You might find a degree of privacy without the distracting comforts of home. Several Braniff and Carpenter classrooms also provide an enchanting view of the lights of Dallas or Las Colinas. With the exception of windowless Gorman, however, the academic buildings usually lock up around midnight; often on such pretext have my friends and I been driven forth from that paradise by archangelic Campus Safety Officers.
Sometimes, thus banished, we have lighted upon the aptly named “Fishbowl” on the Mall as a possible promised land. When not filled with art, this glassy outcropping of the library – which is lined with a shocking number of electrical outlets – is filled with furniture, and can provide a quiet, sunlit refuge. The danger of the Fishbowl is, of course, its position on the Mall. One evening of finals week last semester, a friend and I spent approximately nine hours in that glassy prison, where we were ambushed by a roving pack of Christmas carolers and repeatedly waylaid by passing friends, before finally taking the exam the next day, effectively without having studied any of the material that actually composed it.
The moral of that story is that in no public space on campus are your studies safe from the threat of human interaction – with one exception. Many people, frightened by the excitable door alarm and haunted by images of catastrophic bookshelf avalanches, scrupulously avoid the library; these people who fear to cross that Iron Curtain are sadly deprived of the peculiar pleasure of Periodicals.
Periodicals, like any good bar, has its regulars. Pale-faced and quiet of tread, these people but periodically enter the ordinary stream of social life, and this they do shrouded in mystery and suffering from symptoms of Periodicals-withdrawal. Although Periodicals may be noteworthy for its oppressively awkward silence, it possesses some rare beauty. On sunlit days, the whole establishment glows peacefully, and Periodicals alone keeps its promise of safety from sociability. The regulars won’t mind if you should join them there to write your essay. At least, they’re not going to say anything about it.
It’s a new semester, and it’s time for you turn over a new leaf of that book you’ve idly been holding for the past 45 minutes. Boldly go forth and figure out what works for your work. And at the very least, get far, far from the Cap Bar.