Beady eyes fixed on the target, brimming with rage and desperation.
No, this isn’t a scene from “Jaws.” This is me searching for a single seat to study during every midterm and finals season.
UCLA prides itself on luxurious, historic environments for students to utilize while studying. The Study at Hedrick has posh lighting and muraled ceilings, Powell Libraryadded “Library” is an architectural landmark and the Charles E. Young Research Library could be mistaken for a Google campus.
But despite the allure of these gorgeous study spots, there are times when they’re not even close to being accessible for students.
On top of the immense pressure of academic competition during testing weeks, stress-ridden weeks and late nights, students have to compete for the prime real estate of a study booth.
Tina Bui, a second-year neuroscience student, said the congestion on the Hill has narrowed the window of time she has to study for finals.
“Getting study rooms becomes a battle – there are people out in lounges, and study halls get loud and don’t elicit a lot of productivity,” Bui said. “Sometimes my study group just has to convene in someone’s tiny classic triple because there’s just no space.”
Students spend every five minutes making another loop around the library, losing hope with every pass around. After consecutive all-nighters and a downright obscene amount of coffee consumed, it’s hard to patiently wait for a student to finish watching an episode of “The Office” at a highly coveted Powell desk.
This shark tank environment has been long-standing, but overenrollment on the Hill certainly doesn’t help. UCLA’s undergraduate population has grown by 20% over the past nine years, which is no small amount of students.
But the frustration doesn’t just lie in the fact that there’s not enough seats.
It’s that once students secure them, it can be like territorial war. Students camp out in their booths for days at a time, refusing to move their items even when they’ve left for hours to secure a power nap. They sprawl out their colored pens, jackets, food and notes to make the space look lived in and uninhabitable in their absence.
And UCLA students are downright vicious. I’ve seen students chuck another person’s property onto the ground if they get up to refill their kombucha, yelling matches over how you don’t have the right to sit in a booth for six consecutive days and students sleeping on uncomfortable padding to ensure their desk is still there the next day. As a student begins to pack their belongings, two foes from the opposite sides of the room will lock eyes. The message is relayed as they break into a full sprint: “This one’s mine.”
With an increasing number of admitted students at UCLA every year comes a decreasing quality of available infrastructure for them to best learn there.
Students deserve to have a conducive and accessible space for studying at a public university. All students are trying to succeed, but it shouldn’t take a blood frenzy to do so.