Opinion | Op-eds

No lounging around

Our lounges need fixing. 

Picture this: You have only an hour left of reading before you finish your homework. You don’t want to make the trek over to Butler, and you don’t want to go to Lehman because the study spaces are uncomfortable and not private. You want to be able to study in a quiet and comfortable place, and so you decide to go back to your room. You get into your room, but your roommate has her friends over, so you leave and walk hopelessly into your lounge.

If this lounge is anything like the one on my floor, it has acquired a certain odor over the years. The smells of perpetually cooking popcorn, dirty dishes piling up in the sink, late-night ramen before bed, the burnt brownies of novice bakers, failed attempts at making tomato sauce, molten plastic in the microwave, and spilt coffee ooze out of the cracks of the lounge’s doorway. Once you open the door, the smell smacks you right in the face. 

This time, you are lucky. For the first time in weeks no one is in the lounge watching the latest TLC show. You consider sitting at the table to do your work. Unfortunately, the black and brown stains on the orange chairs are likely to ruin your pajamas—what could those stains possibly be from? The wooden table is covered in burn marks from steaming plates of mac and cheese. You decide to move to the couches surrounding the TV. You sit down, and some dust rises from the couch pillows, but you decide to let it settle and try to ignore it. After sinking a little further down into the cushions, it seems as though you have finally found a place to collect your thoughts. Just as you pull out your pen to annotate your reading, three girls stampede into the lounge, sit on the other couch, and begin watching an old Amanda Bynes movie on full volume. 

Frustrated, wanting a little private time, and beginning to feel homesick, you decide that reading for this class isn’t nearly as important as calling your parents. So you pick up your phone, but you realize you can’t talk in the lounge, you can’t talk in your room, and you can’t talk in the stairway (there are 17 floors of girls constantly walking up and down), so you go to the other lounge down the hall.

This large carpeted lounge has one table and four plastic chairs. All the chairs are taken, but at least it’s quiet. You sit on the floor to start reading again, but immediately your butt starts to hurt from the lack of cushioning. You reposition, but every time, within in a matter of minutes, your butt begins to ache again. The girls working at the table are constantly shifting, painfully unaware that they will never get comfortable while sitting on those unforgiving seats. Within 20 minutes you’re so sore you’re numb. Pissed off, in pain, and grumpy, you head back to your room to go to bed, having done no work. 

During NSOP, my RA promised that one of the lounges would have new comfortable furniture: reasonably new chairs and couches and a nice table for people to actually do homework on. It’s less than a month until finals, and her promises are unfulfilled. We need new facilities. Should my classmates and I set up a lemonade stand to raise money for our lounges? Should we petition and ask our parents to make sure that the residential portion of our tuition actually goes toward making our dorms more friendly areas for studying and living? Barnard needs to make sure that each floor has a quiet study place with couches, tables, and chairs for the students and a clean, well-kept kitchen with furniture that is not mildewing. When I came to Barnard, I thought I would have a clean, neutral-smelling space to share with my floor. I dream of a room where the air is clean and the furniture is usable, where a young woman can learn without fear of encroaching filth and distraction. So far, I, and other Barnard students, have been let down. 

The author is a Barnard College first-year.

To respond to this op-ed, or to submit an op-ed, contact opinion@columbiaspectator.com.

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