Volume 19, Issue 11
Start at 1.01
It has come to my attention that this semester will be the first time the first and second year JD cohorts will be able to study for exams on campus. I’m sure many of us intend to take advantage of the law building to escape our freezing cold sharehouses or noisy younger siblings. I am also aware that a great many of us third years are wary of what this migration into the building entails. We feel it important to inform the younger cohorts of how things are done.
You see, prior to COVID there were many rules governing the study spaces at MLS, rules that I fear will be lost to history if left unaddressed. Level 1 and 2 seating is fair game for everyone, including other faculties. The Mezzanine is for social study, complete with frequent coffee runs and meal breaks. And then there is level 3. The law library is for silent study. The JD study space is for JD students to use for silent study. You can do as you wish in other parts of the building, but the JD space is our space, and we all need to be on the same page about how we’ll use it.
I’m sure we’ve all heard the silence rule by now. The law library staff certainly noticed the shift in attitude towards, or perhaps lack of awareness of, this rule compared with March 2020. They kindly asked us in an email dated 11th May 2021 that “[we] respect this rule and ensure [we] do not have discussions (study-related or otherwise) in the [level 3] study space.” I am here to tell you that they have phrased this mildly. This is no joking matter. We must all be silent in the level 3 study space. It is a mandate. This rule is not limited to talking, it includes chip-munching, paper-rustling, drink-slurping, and especially the party-inducing volumes of Dua Lipa pumping through some students’ AirPods.
One of my final memories of the law building before the world collapsed was of a girl sitting in the far back corner of the level 3 space. You know the one, that seat that that one guy, my dear friend, always sits in. She had her laptop open in full view of the rest of the room and we all stared at the powerhouse of the cell spliced open on her screen. We were mortified that some first year science student had been allowed into the space, but worse, we were furious with whoever had let her in. I cannot believe that this has to be said. The JD space is for JD students. If they can’t swipe in, they must stay out. Doesn’t get much clearer than that.
“Rebecca, who cares? It’s not that deep, move on with your life.”
First of all, no.
Second, I can imagine why many of you think that such strictness seems a bit over the top. So far your degree has consisted of attempting some readings, watching some lectures, and then showing up to class. Doesn’t seem that difficult or worthy of maintaining such a high-strung study environment. My friends, I would like to draw your attention to one crucial difference between now and pre-COVID law school, the reason that these rules have always been so strictly enforced by older cohorts: control.
Prior to COVID, none of us had any control over when or how we would be taught the content. In your first semester you’d have four hours of class a day, three days a week, which I’m told is twice as many hours as the current first years. You had better have moved your life around to accommodate those 12 hours of classes. More importantly, there was no such thing as recorded content for any class, ever (unless you were on an academic adjustment plan, but apparently now even THAT is on shaky territory). You typed out everything said in class that you think you needed to know, or you and your friends lost it to the void. These parameters, on top of part-time work, extracurriculars, and any form of social life, left you with very specific hours in your week with which to prepare for class. It was vital that in those hours you were effective with your time. That drive for effectiveness is what kept us all quiet and unwilling to share valuable study space with other faculties. It is the lack of this pressure that has relaxed us all.
“Rebecca, surely change is a good thing. Why would we want to return to The Old Ways when we don’t need to right now?”
This is a good question, and I’ll give you two answers.
Answer 1 - by the second half of the year the law school might decide to return to the in-class only learning model with the option to learn on campus or over zoom. If this occurs, there will suddenly be a lot more of us in the building at once, and we’ll again be jumping between class and study. We will need to be in agreement that the strictness of the JD study space is maintained to help us all keep our semesterly breakdown counts low.
Answer 2 - we don’t need a return. So long as Australia’s borders are closed and international students are prevented from returning, the law school keeps to the recorded classes model. I highly doubt they will keep the model forever, but maybe just long enough that the MLS culture is lost to history and the new generations have to pick it up from scratch. A near era will begin and my ranting will be for naught.
So there you have it. Perhaps myself, the third years, and the MLS library staff need to calm down. Perhaps we would all benefit from behaving more seriously on campus. Perhaps the culture will resolve itself next semester, or be gone forever. But in any scenario, if we could please, please, keep our mouths shut from week 12 onward, your third year peers would be very grateful. Thank you.
Rebecca is a grumpy and dejected third year student living in a cold sharehouse.
The views in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of De Minimis or its Editors.