A successful afternoon of the freshmen residents of L-Dub entryway D includes — as do the successful afternoons of most Yale students — food, Facebook and finding the perfect study nook, each at the right time. While food can be easily obtained (sometimes even too easily — read: freshman 15) and Facebook is an indispensable stalking device in this tumultuous Screw season, procuring some intellectual solitude in a place full of intellectual camaraderie is often a daunting task.
Let us examine just how daunting this task can be by tracing the quest of young Yalies eager for moderate learning, critically reflecting on the different study areas our campus offers on the side.
Bass is somehow always our first choice. Whether because of its proximity to Old Campus or its underground allure, freshmen are attracted to Bass almost as much as they are attracted to upperclassmen. Yet, in all of our two-month-long attempts, my friends and I have never managed to find a single available cubicle upon arrival. Whether we go early in the afternoon or late at night, people seem to be perennially studying in the Bass cubicles.
The one time I actually managed to get a cubicle for myself was the result of a carefully devised strategy — I went to Bass immediately after my 9 am class, left random objects in one of the cubicles and came back in the evening — which is a habit much too scorned for me to do it on a daily basis.
After unsuccessfully strolling through Bass in search for a cubicle — and in the process visibly annoying people trying to concentrate on their work — we turn to the Bass reading rooms. This secondary quest can have one out of two outcomes: Either the reading rooms are occupied by clusters of science aficionados enthusiastically working on problem sets, in which case we leave Bass in peace; or they are occupied by single individuals who for some reason think they have the legitimacy to claim a whole room for themselves, in which case we leave Bass in anger.
By the time we cross out Bass as an option, it’s already time for dinner. During dinner, we briefly ponder going to one of the residential college libraries; a glance at the most recent copy of the YDN, however, reminds us that even in Yale’s happiest college, too much Beer! Beer! Beer! doesn’t prevent thieves from stealing students’ valuables. And if Davenport students are the victims of theft, are any of us really safe?
So we decide to go to Starbucks. After awkwardly waiting around for a table to become available, we sit down only to have another group of students awkwardly waiting around for us to leave. This perpetual cycle of awkwardness clearly prevents us from doing any work. Plus, Starbucks is so conducive to spending money that doing Directed Studies reading there is easily one of the safest paths to bankruptcy.
Around 11 p.m., we end up back in Bass, Facebooking or sleeping in the armchairs on the first floor. The Berkeley buttery is also dangerously close, so a trip there almost always complements our extensive learning experience.
Since Bass closes before we start doing any work, we are forced to go back to our humble L-Dub common rooms — each of us to our own, since the idea of all of us fitting into one is a little too ambitious. So we read or solve into the night, and often into the morning, having exhausted all possible campus distractions.
I understand that Yale is full of places my friends and I haven’t yet had the opportunity to explore—places such as Sterling and the Law School. But as freshmen, we still have plenty of time to tackle these adventures.
Bottom line: We realize that it is unjust to ascribe our lack of productivity to Yale’s lack of good study areas. After all, Yale is a lovely place full of exemplary students who manage to do all of their work and get more than three hours of sleep every night. Our question: Where do they go? If the answer is any of the aforementioned places, I am guessing my friends and I should seriously consider off-campus housing in the future.