TC, of the 23 and 24 kinds, is the most serious study space on the grounds of Trinity. However, much like baseball and cruising for sex in public bathrooms, it is governed by an unwritten set of rules, customs, and traditions that keep everyone in line. Firstly, if your studying needs are dire, you should be at a library. You and I both know that studying a) with your friends and b) in an environment without adult oversight will inevitably lead to stray chatter. If you insist on total silence so you can cram a semester’s worth of material in your graduate-level course on the Twilight books and Jacques Derrida you are tilting at windmills. Granted, the JCR and Melinda Sea are the spots where the gong-shows should be taking place but being a scold over conversations in TC is nothing less than a sign of moral failure and mental deficiency. It is anti-social behaviour, pure and simple. It should be treated with as much scorn as public spitting and is as undignified as being invited to the White House and showing up in a snapback planning to show Joe Biden some vape tricks. Your prof is not going to jump out of the A/V closet to give you a gold star for a shrill shush. In our secular age, “hall monitor” might now be the holiest and self-righteous position you can strive for, in lieu of “clergyman”. I would park myself in a meeting with the admin if I wanted to be harangued, and if I wanted to take part in an impromptu backwards crabwalk race around Stildas I would be in Melinda Seaman. TC is one of the few social spaces at Trinity where it is still possible to get good work done.
It goes without saying that our sterile study spaces exist solely for their utility. Much like septic tanks or boiler rooms, they are something we need but have no reason to think about more than absolutely necessary. Chateau Robarts is a place you go when you need to do work. You walk in, stare at your screen indefinitely, and then walk out. If you need a monastic environment there are many options for you. TC should not be one of them, and you’ve little right to be irritated over that fact. You can tell a lot from someone based on what sets them on edge, makes them grind their teeth a little or steams them. It’s as if the scolds, who seem to suffer from a condition in which the human voice causes their brain to shut down like it’s an MKULTRA killswitch, have never had to be in a workplace (an actual workplace, where you get paid to be there, not the other way around). Work and camaraderie go hand-in-hand, especially in the blue-collar world, and in my view, the work you’re doing must be very important if it necessitates absolute quiet and isolation. Of course, there is very important work that must be done from time to time, and we all need peace and quiet to get it done. But if you can’t complete an after-lecture quiz in an environment where total silence is not enforced how do you ever expect to survive in any kind of work environment outside of university? Nobody liked getting that classic routine from primary school teachers of: “In the real world you’ll have to deal with XYZ”, because it was deployed on everything from being able to tie your shoes or if you couldn’t hand in a science project because the printer at home ran out of ink last night, but it seems like there are people who are desperately in need of that kind of talk when it comes to being a well-adjusted human being.
TC is one of the few places I can be free from the psychic assaults of the gang stalkers sent to monitor me on behalf of several unnamed agencies and groups and of other paid operatives that constantly attempt to force me into a self-defence situation in public. The Trappist monk who saunters into TC, knowingly or unknowingly, is a part of this attack on decency, the Free World, and me. TC is a place where one settles into a contented Mediterranean work ethic, where workflows from our fingertips with languid ease as a gentle stream of conversation ensures constant social stimulation, a tourniquet against the 18-plus year bloodletting of vigour or joie de vivre we have all been subjected to. For you, TC may just be a place to study. For me, TC is a place to heal.