How to Fight the Obnoxious Student

I had a meeting last week with a few fellow students. In an effort to find a study room, I head to Gerstein library, which boasts of wonderful study rooms, with large windows, wireless internet connect, plugs, and (almost functioning) whiteboards. It is the perfect place to have a group study meeting, and in fact, that is what the entire floor is designed for.

Upon arriving at the hallway in which the study rooms were located, I was disappointed to find that they were all taken. A little investigation, however, revealed that some of the rooms were being used by one student. Both the students whom I spoke to, informed me that they would be in the room for one to two more hours despite me telling them that the room is reserved for groups of students for three or more.

What students need to realize is, where are several libraries which allow for single-student study. There are cubicles, extra-quiet study single-study spaces, and much more. On the contrast, only a minimal amount of study rooms are available for students in groups. As a result, it is very unfair when students who are not studying in groups take up the group study rooms.

There is also the opposite scenario to contend with.
Currently, I am sitting in a quiet study area – and although there are couches available for groups to sit and quietly study, three young men have taken up residence in those couches, and are exchanging a tirade of angry swear words. The noise has gotten so unbearable (despite my loud sighing and pointed glares) that a security guard has had to come upstairs and tell that that their ridiculousness is being magnified all the way downstairs. Of course, as soon as he left, the f-words and yelling continued.

Here is what I’ve finally understood – a single student in group study rooms, loud groups in quiet study areas – this indicates to me that students are not deserving of these resources. I hate to say it, especially because I am a student myself, but a few of us seem to have a knack to be unable to follow the rules, which results in everyone having an unpleasant experience.

Unfortunately, Gerstein hasn’t kicked in gear yet to consider having someone that students can go to when the group study rooms are being occupied by one student, and the security guard didn’t think to stick around long enough to realize these guys need to be kicked out.  But its not the library’s responsibility, or the school’s responsibility to be a parent to the student. Students need to grow up, and recognize that paying for university doesn’t make them in charge. Sitting in a group study area doesn’t mean a lady should have to come and tell you that your yelling is carrying down the hall into offices when you are sitting in a LIBRARY, for goodness sake, and it does mean that if you are going to take up a study room when you are the only person in it, then you need to recognize that when someone with 3 or more people comes along, you need to relinquish the room!

But enough of my venting tirade! I’m sure you’ve been caught in a similar situation …  the question is, how to we address it?

Stay Calm: Most of the time, people don’t realize they are being loud – it is not intentional, and getting angry at them will get their defences up and make them resentful. Instead, stay calm and be respectful.

Diffuse the Blame but Be Firm: In my experience, when people are in a study room making too much noise, it is best not to be accusatory. I generally start with ” Hello Guys, sorry to disturb you. Most people don’t know this, and I’ve made this mistake before myself, but this studyroom isn’t soundproof. It is misleading, huh? (don’t forget to smile 🙂 )

Use Humour: Using humour is a great way to make people feel comfortable when you’re getting mad. I generally continue my statement with “It is no big deal, but I thought I would let you know that we can hear you down the hall, especially because if you are planning a surprise for me, I don’t want to hear it yet!” (insert second smile here :)) Okay, my joke is lame, but it gets the point across – I can hear you embarrassingly clearly, all the way down the hall. Be quiet.

Rule Reminder: Don’t be afraid to remind people of the rules – most people will be fine getting up and moving when you politely tell them you have the team of people waiting for the study room, which is the disclaimer for the study rooms ‘reserved status’.

Suggest Alternatives: Instead of just kicking someone out, consider providing them with alternatives – such as an extra-quiet study area that they may not know about. That makes it a little easier, especially because they’ve settled in to the place you’re about to invade.

If you’ve experienced the noisy student in a quite place, or the alternative silent single student in a place reserved for group study, then you probably have some stories, ideas and suggestions on how to conquer this problem. Leave a comment!


Surviving Studenthood


3 responses

  1. This darn useful since I find myself getting worked up over students at my school, and I’m still in A-Levels for Heaven’s sake. Some part of me hoped it would die down at this level, but its only become more noticeable. Still, this made me chuckle so thanks.

    1. Hey Alex!

      Thanks for your comment. It is so hard to study when people are being obnoxious! I’ve discovered humour really helps, and being aggressive is the worst – it makes people all defensive and on edge.

      You got any tips?

      🙂 Glad we made you laugh.


      Surviving Studenthood

  2. Obnoxious Student | Reply

    True story from last year at Whitireia Community Polytechnic in Porirua, New Zealand…

    Mr. Loudmouth had been carrying on and YELLING at the top of his lungs all year long. He was refusing to pay attention in class, and openly playing video games, while YELLING at the top of his lungs about anything and everything except school. As you would expect, he was failing the course, had been accused of plagarism, and was inciting other students and teachers to show open anger in class.

    One time, I was sitting near him, and asked him to tone it down. Within a minute, he was back to YELLING at the top of his lungs. I asked him again to tone it down. Within another minute, he was back to YELLING at the top of his lungs.

    I got up, took my papers and bag, and moved to another seat, at a corner of the classroom, as far as possible from Mr. Loudmouth.

    He then started YELLING at the top of his lungs, AT ME, saying that he didn’t know that I was serious. And YELLING at the top of his lungs, asking me if I thought that there was too much NOISE in the classroom. Because he thought it was cute.

    I endured a whole year of Mr. Loudmouth. And when I complained to staff, the response was, “He has a learning disability.”

    Don’t go to Whitireia Community Polytechnic in Porirua, New Zealand. The staff there don’t have the ability to kick out disruptive students. They just tune it out, and they expect the good students to just tolerate mind-blowing levels of bad behaviour from the bad students.

    And don’t get me started on the open sexual harassment in class. Which the school faculty directly stated was just fine by them.

    The worst person at Whitireia Community Polytechnic in Porirua, New Zealand was Leanne Pool, the head of the nursing programme. She is a disgusting excus for a human being.

    Amusingly, the New Zealand Tertiery Education Commission caught on to the scam perpetrated by Whitireia Community Polytechnic in Porirua, New Zealand, with their appaling low standards. And the TEC is now tightening the purse strings, and restricting the taxpayer subsidies to that school. In a few years, Whitireia will have their funding cut back so severely that they will have to shut their doors. I will be laughing as the NZ Tertiery Education Commission chokes the life out of Whitireai Community Polytechnic.

    I am so glad I got out of that cesspit.

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