As I entered the M.D. Anderson Memorial library during the one hour between my classes, I felt good about doing my research project on time and overcoming my desire to procrastinate. My momentum came to a screeching halt as I arrived at the bank of “academic research only computers” and saw that there was already a crowd of people waiting.
At first, I stood patiently with the rest of the students. Then I noticed a girl near me checking the details of her cell phone usage on the academic research computer. I thought for sure the library employee patrolling the area would do something, since so many people were waiting, but I was sadly mistaken. I tried sending the girl, who is a T-Mobile user, by the way, telepathic messages about how quickly my blood pressure was rising as a direct result of her ignorance. When that didn't work, I used the more nerdy and library-appropriate approach, which involved threatening to get someone to physically remove her from the computer if she did not feel inclined to do so herself.
When the girl reluctantly logged off, all those waiting for computers applauded my courage in fighting to keep the academic research computers reserved for, well, academic research. A red carpet was spread before me and the UH System Chancellor Jay Gogue himself came and placed a laurel wreath upon my brow — hardly.
Actually, my momentary spurt of library assertiveness was dashed as an even more outraged girl let me know that she and her friend were next because they had been waiting “way longer” than I had. I acquiesced, and as her friend logged onto the computer for which I had so bravely fought, I had to choke back a tear as her research focused on, of course, her e-mail account. But I do give the girl credit for logging on, checking her account, and logging off in less than 60 seconds.
Here it was — the moment I had been waiting for. I logged on and used the computer to look up books I needed from the library for a project. I knew it was a radical thing to do, but I felt I needed to do it for the students who, like me, actually plan on obtaining an education while at UH. Amazingly enough, I found the books I needed in five minutes, retrieved them from the shelf and then checked out in about 10 minutes.
In retrospect, I should have gotten one of the imposing figures behind the information desk to weed out the non-academic research offenders, and I probably will next time. Prepare yourself, there's another radical idea coming. Maybe removing students who break the rules is something the library employees could work into their schedule when they see students waiting for computers.
Another more obvious solution is for UH students to use common sense and postpone checking their e-mail on academic research computers when the library is crowded. Or, maybe we should just get rid of all the books in the library and reopen it as an Internet café.
I don't like to be boorish, but if it's a choice between being able to do my research and being nice and patient while you look up your Internet dating account, I will gladly let you endure another lonely night.
Roseland, a post-baccalaureate communication disorders student, can be reached via email@example.com.