Patel: An open letter to dorm residents


It’s 3 a.m. and someone’s told such a hilarious story about some kid who threw his backpack out the window last Saturday night that you can’t help but howl with laughter for the next 10 minutes.

Great. I’m happy for you.

Really, I am. College is and should be fun. I go to parties, I horse around with my friends, I have shouted conversations from my fifth-floor window with people on the ground. Heck, I laugh half my day away. (Notice the day part.) But when I’m trying to sleep because I have an 8 a.m. class tomorrow and you’ve woken me up four nights in a row, consistently between the hours of 1 and 4 a.m., we’ve got a problem.

See, we live in a shared space. And although I’m really glad you’re having fun, is it really necessary to cackle so loudly at odd hours of the night that I can hear you from down the hall, in my room, with my earplugs in? Of course, that’s why we have quiet hours. The problem is, nobody adheres to them.

When did blatant disregard for the rules become OK? Community Assistants strictly enforce the “no alcohol” rules and patrol their halls every night with vigor. But when it comes to enforcing quiet hours, they turn a blind eye. It’s up to me to work up the courage — in my pajamas — to navigate my way through a maze of textbooks and trash to approach a group of residents, such as yourselves, then somehow manage to get your attention while you are all cackling madly and ask you to please try to be quieter and hope that you will at least try to heed my request. Which, in all likelihood, you won’t.

During Finals Week, when there are 24-hour quiet hours, I don’t want to hear what you have to say about the latest SNL skit, or you listing the flaws of everyone on our floor at the top of your lungs. (That’s a great idea, right there. They’ll never hear you.) Quiet hours are instituted for a reason — believe it or not, some of us came to Northwestern to study. That’s the thing where you open a book and you read it, silently. Foreign concept, I know.

But seriously, if I ask you to be quiet, don’t even try to tell me to go to the library. If I want to at least somewhat be able to hear my own thoughts, I should not have to trudge halfway across campus with all my textbooks to go to a place that is somewhat quieter than a Lil Wayne concert. You, on the other hand, don’t need any books; all you need to do is take your loud mouth to the nearest coffee shop — or even better, outside, where you can yell as loud as you want! Go on, no one’s stopping you.

Living in a dorm, I expect some noise. It’s true. We’re a group of about 200 college kids crammed into one building, and of course we’re going to pull pranks on each other, yell for no good reason and eat as much unhealthy food as we possibly can. But young adults, college kids or not, should realize that people need to sleep. It’s a fundamental concept of life: You eat, you breathe, you sleep, you study. And you laugh — just not when I’m sleeping.

Meera Patel is a McCormick sophomore. She can be reached at [email protected]. If you want to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected].