OPINION: A modest proposal-start studying in the slobby

By Dominic Pino, Columnist

I am writing this column from my favorite place to study at Mason.  There are many great places to study on the Fairfax campus.  Fenwick Library with its comfy chairs and quiet study rooms.  The Johnson Center right in the middle of campus with so many food options.  Even in your own room when your roommate isn’t around.  But I propose that there is one place that surpasses them all.  The epicenter from whence all profundity emanates, the birthplace of a plethora of research ideas, the most soothing working environment on campus.  That’s right, I am referring, of course, to the Southside lobby – or, as true enthusiasts call it, the Slobby.

Other study spaces have cozy furniture and strive for peaceful surroundings.  At first glance, this seems like tremendous goodwill on the part of the designers of these spaces.  But really, it seems to me it is actually a vast facade.  Think about it: why should studying be comfortable?  Learning difficult subjects that tax your mind and freak you out seems like a task that is more fitting for a place without creature comforts.  

Luckily, the Slobby casts the veneer of comfort asunder and provides stools with low backs abutting unstable high tables that wobble with every keystroke on your laptop near floor-to-ceiling windows that bootlessly attempt to keep the frigid February air outside where it belongs.  Wearing my coat fully zipped, the Slobby reminds me of the solemn task at hand – finish this column, meet my deadline, or face the cold, uncomfortable reality of failure.  She is a harsh but fair taskmaster.

But for those among us that prefer the comforting lies of the couch to the brutal truth of the stool, there are couches, too.  No matter where you sit, you gain more than just the subject knowledge you are trying to study.  You also gain what I call “Slobby Enlightenment.”  

I can write this column anywhere I bring my laptop.  There is only one place where I can write this column and hear a Sodexo employee say, “It is fixed,” twice into a walkie-talkie.  What was broken?  How was it fixed?  What does that mean?

This spirit of questioning was what led to the Enlightenment.  Replace pondering the paths of the planets with pondering the mumblings of a food-service employee, and you have Slobby Enlightenment.  There is no question that this phenomenon raises the minds of all it encounters to a higher plane of consciousness.  Studies show that Slobby Enlightenment accounts for a 6 percent boost on exams – and you know it’s true because that’s what the studies show.

The Slobby has variables and constants.  Always changing are the people waiting to meet other people and the aroma of the food being prepared to nourish our bodies.  Always stable are the requisite ice cream cone splattered on the floor and the excellence of the academic environment.

Which leads to my modest proposal.  Mason wishes to augment its reputation as a research university.  The best way to aid that laudable goal is to encourage students to work in the best academic environment on campus: the Slobby.  GMU has produced two Nobel Prize winners.  If we want more, we better hope for more studying in the Slobby.

Photo by Allie Thompson