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The problem with personal phone calls in the GAC

It has happened to just about everyone: Someone is going to the Academic Commons to study for an upcoming exam in a calm environment, only to sit down near someone who is talking at full volume on their phone about their dramatic lives.

The Guerrieri Academic Commons is a beloved study space for many SU students. According to SU’s website, the GAC is designed to be “the hub of academic life on the SU campus, serving faculty and students in all disciplines.”

Between its four floors, there are spaces for every type of learner, from the tables and booths on the often-crowded first floor to the silent study spaces of the third floor to the few chairs that line the nearly-silent fourth floor.

While its central purpose is providing an academic environment (hence the name “Academic Commons”), the GAC is used as a place for socializing as well. Students often meet up to study in the group study rooms or have a meal together at one of the tables outside of Hungry Minds.

Sometimes this socializing takes a 21st-century twist in the form of texting, calling and video chatting through apps such as FaceTime or Skype.

Although people that study and those that socialize in the library get along with one another most of the time, there can be a problem when the two mix. Specifically, difficulties can potentially follow when those trying to focus and video chatters come in close proximity to one another.

Whether it is a phone call or a video call, the outcome for their neighbor is the same: feeling distracted, unable to concentrate and frustrated.

According to, “Researchers have found that environmental noise—background music, city sounds, people’s conversations—leads to a decrease in performance for most people.”

Talking or video chatting around someone who is trying to study is not only distracting to them; it’s outright counterproductive. It will likely lead to the relaxed learner being able to get less work accomplished than they would if their environment was quieter.

As it turns out, phone and video calls are an especially powerful type of distraction. also noted that, “One source of noise, though, is harder to tune out: intermittent speech. That’s when you hear a few words or sentences here and there, with pauses in between.”

Phone calls are the perfect example of intermittent speech, and this information confirms what many students already believe: that phone calls are an especially annoying distraction for those trying to concentrate on their work. It can be difficult to tune out conversations around you when one is studying, whether they want to hear those conversations or not.

Not only do students find these phone calls or video chats distracting—they also come across as rude.

Freshman nursing major Marie Martin commented about people who talk loudly on their phones in library, “I think it is rude, and that they should remove themselves from the place of learning if they have to take a cell phone call. I understand if you need to talk to someone, but you should try not to disrupt those around you.”

Talking on the phone in The Academic Commons is not inherently a negative act. It is only when the person’s conversations begin to distract other students that it becomes a problem.

If you decide to make or take a phone call or video call while you’re in the library, for the sake of other students’ productivity (And the sake of common courtesy), it is best to move into an area that is away from learners. Or, at the very least, keep your voice at a lower volume.

Through respecting one another and not sharing our personal stories and problems accidentally to strangers, we can make campus a more enjoyable place for everyone in The Academic Commons.



Staff writer

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