The Leek | Issue 13

The Leek | Issue 13

The Great Library Occupation of ’13

As semester one draws to a close and exams loom ever nearer, many students are torn between excitement over heading home for the break and apprehension over their upcoming finals. Although Otago’s sprawling campus is home to an impressive number of libraries, computer labs, and study centres, this time of year sends students flocking to the Central Library in droves – almost as if the others didn’t exist. “Central” is an academic hub for all different types of students – be they fresh or mature, assiduous or apathetic, comatose or … territorial?

It’s true – students who frequent the library during these high-pressure weeks would be more likely to bite off someone’s note-taking hand than give up their coveted study spot. The sight of row upon row of abandoned laptops and binders just place-holding while kids nip back to their dingy flats for a feed is sickeningly familiar. Many have fallen victim to the endless pacing between floors that is often required in order to locate a seat in Central – but how far would some students go to keep their prime positions locked down?

A security bust has revealed that a ring of 100-150 enterprising First Year Health Science students found a way to circumvent the seating struggle. It appears that they have been living at the library day-in, day-out for the past few weeks. Since taking up residence there, they developed ingenious ways to survive undetected. A number of bookshelves in the Philosophy, Theatre and Art History sections were emptied out and converted into bunk beds, concealed by drop sheets plastered with realistic, life-size images of lame books stacked on shelves.

The sneaky stowaways would hide behind these façades until the final security check was finished and the library was locked up each night. They would then emerge from their cubbies and study hard until morning, repeating the same process as the library opened before slipping out and snagging their favorite seats ahead of the masses. There is no evidence that the bunks were ever actually slept in.

Household appliances including toasters, microwaves and electric jugs, along with a substantial amount of non-perishable food items, were smuggled in via the service entrance and stored inside the many drum-like coffee tables dotted throughout the library. These freshers would use the showers in the disabled bathrooms to stay fresh, or occasionally dart across to OUSA during the day for a quick spritz there.

While these particular first-years are devilishly clever, reports of several older students paying otherwise unoccupied freshers to sit in their seats during mealtime absences and lectures only serve to remind us that, at the end of the day, most freshers are about as useful as white crayons.
This article first appeared in Issue 13, 2013.
Posted 3:03pm Sunday 26th May 2013 by Campbell Ecklein.