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Belles debate the usefulness of Trumper

| Monday, December 3, 2018

Senior Kerry Rose McDonald entered Trumper, the 24-hour computer cluster facility located in the basement of the Saint Mary’s library, around 11:30 p.m. one evening to print a document. She said she knew who was going to be there working for the entire night as soon as she glanced around.

“I see the snacks spread,” she said. “I see the blankets. I see the hoodies. Girls taking naps on the couch. It’s a little early for that, but they’re already in full Trumper mode.”

McDonald said she knew of the late nights that some Belles — who she refers to as “Trumpernites” — spend in Trumper to get assignments done that are typically due the following day. She said she too has spent a long night there with classmates, beginning work at 1 a.m. and finishing at 6:30 a.m.

As soon as McDonald printed her assignment that night, she said, she sent a message to her best friend, junior Anna Babiak:

“I have to be honest,” McDonald said in her message. “I was so inspired, I genuinely wished I had my backpack with me, so I could stay and crank out some homework. I felt so bad leaving my soldiers out there in the battlefield. I felt them look at me with envy as I simply came for a quick, printing visit.

“That’s the sense of community, pride and belonging you feel when you’re a Trumpernite,” she said.

“And I will never feel that,” Babiak said in response.

Babiak said she does not understand how students can work in Trumper, citing many reasons she does not enjoy the space.

“I don’t work productively down there — there is a lot wrong with it,” Babiak said. “Number one: the lighting. Horrible. There’s zero natural light. No windows. You feel like you’re in a dungeon, maybe even a prison. I will concede that the computers are nice. The chairs? Horrible. So uncomfortable and old. They need new chairs.”

Though Babiak does not enjoy the space, she said she is happy others can feel a sense of camaraderie in Trumper.

“For me, I feel a sense of stress,” she said. “Having everybody down there, furiously working away — I also don’t do well hearing all these side conversations. My mind is very distracted. I can’t focus. I get very little done. And I have tried. I have tried Trumper.”

Babiak said she does not frequently visit Trumper, and one of her worst trips there was with McDonald.

“The one night that we went together was probably my worst because I was very stressed that night and we were picking classes that night, and I just had a huge assignment I had to do and I wasn’t being super productive,” she said.

On the other hand, McDonald said she was “in [her] element” that evening.

“I stayed there after she left,” McDonald said. “I mean, how could I not? It’s an irresistible study place. I feel like when I go there, I enter this energy of productivity. It could be 4 a.m. — that’s why I like that there are no windows, I have no sense of time.”

Babiak disagreed that Trumper’s lack of windows was an upside to the space.

“That’s horrible,” Babiak said. “Again, a dungeon.”

McDonald said she does not let her friend’s criticisms deter her love for the space and her fellow Trumpernites. The conversations and connections she forges with other students help McDonald maintain focus, she said.

“You know what motivates me? … Belles,” McDonald said. “Belles motivate me. So if we’re all crying over the same lit review that we have to write, it’s inspiring. It’s knowing that I’m not in this alone. That’s the whole point. You’re not in it alone. It’s a community. It’s a team effort.”

Babiak said she prefers secluded spaces to study to get her work done efficiently.

“I think I just feel less pressure when I’m by myself and can just do it,” she said. “Also, I don’t enjoy being up late doing things. I only [stay up late] if it’s necessary. I think that’s the difference. I’m not super productive [in Trumper], so I need to be in a place that allows me to be productive.”

McDonald said there are many reasons for her love of Trumper, including “the sense of community, the dedication, the perseverance, the determination to complete these assignments not as one but as a whole.”

Babiak said she cannot support the space by using it herself, but she acknowledges that some students may find solace in Trumper.

“Overall, I just think that the structure of it doesn’t work for me,” she said. “So if there’s a spot where you [can work], you do you. At a certain point, you just have to find a study spot that is productive for you. And no windows and bad lighting and bad seats doesn’t work for me. And smelly bathrooms.”

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