Silence sweeps over students

Photo by: Zoe Deno

Students are challenged with keeping quiet in the Dwight Marvin’s new “yellow zones.”

Zoe Deno
Staff Writer

New signs that have appeared in the The Marvin Library designate the formally rambunctious first floor to be a quiet zone.

“I hope that these changes will encourage students who couldn’t concentrate on their work in the library building in the past to return,” said Marvin Library Director Brenda Hazard.

The Marvin Library separates different areas of the library by “zones.” It is not uncommon for the zones to shift with each semester, however this is the least “green zone,” the library has ever had. The only places left to speak loudly are the study rooms students can rent.

The zones are marked by color, and each corresponds to a noise level allowed in that section. Red zones that indicate silent study. Yellow zones allow students to study and speak quietly with earbuds in. The green allow students to be a little loud and play audio without earbuds. The green zones were intended for study groups and students working on group projects, but students were just using these zones for social gatherings, Hazard said.

“The behavior was disruptive to the academic environment,” Hazard said. “Over the fall semester, this library was feeling like the campus center, and that is not what it is for.”

Librarians often received noise complaints from students trying to study. When the librarians tried to tell the students causing the noise to be quiet, the students were often “hostile,” and the librarians often had to call public safety to help deal with the students, Hazard explained.

Students frequently told the librarians they would quiet down, only to become loud again soon after.

“It was difficult to enforce green zone behavior because that idea was vague,” Hazard said. “How [do] you measure what is quiet and what is not? It is a bit subjective.”

Hazard realized she was not alone in her struggle to control volume when she heard Director of Student Life Louis Coplin shut down the Club Corner in the campus center. He shut it down after students there yelled profanities, thereby violating the school’s code of conduct.

Section 5.3.2 of Hudson Valley’s Code of Conduct dictates that “Harassment” includes “the persistent use of abusive or offensive language” and potentially justifies disciplinary action.

Hazard spoke with Coplin about her problem with noise in the library. Coplin suggested she make the bottom floor of the library a quiet zone.

“That really resonated with me,” Hazard said. “I did a lot of thinking over the end of the fall semester.”

She spoke with much of the facility at the library and consulted her dean. By the time winter break ended, Hazard decided it “was just time to reclaim the area as academic space.”

Hazard is not completely without regret in changing the zones.

“What I see is a need for a place that students can relax in comfortably,” she stated. “Students wanted the library to meet that need, but it was negatively impacting students who wanted a traditional library experience.”

Hazard also commented on the general atmosphere of the zones in the library.

“There is not a place on campus where there is soft seating where students can gather and be social. That place does not exist right now. When you go over to the campus center things are very industrial.”

The Marvin Library is committed to helping students pursue their education in the best environment possible. Right now, the first floor of the library will remain a yellow zone to foster such a place.

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