Satire | The top 8 rules of Hillman Etiquette


John Blair | Senior Staff Photographer

Students study on the first floor of Hillman Library.

By Talia Spillerman, Staff Columnist

With finals coming up, more and more people will head to my favorite place on campus — Hillman library. As a self-proclaimed Hillman regular, I thought it would be fitting to review some etiquette.

  1. You don’t have to adhere to the quiet rule on the fourth floor.

The sign that reads “Please, quiet study only” is merely a suggestion. In fact, I would suggest bringing all your friends, some crunchy chips and a topic in mind to discuss. Everyone else’s silence is actually signaling to you that you are the star of the floor and they are there to hear a “60 Minutes” special episode about your life. I mean, if it weren’t for you talking, everyone on the floor would just stare out the window to admire the chaos on the Bigelow crosswalk.

  1. If you’re alone, you should definitely sit at a big table.

When you sit alone at Hillman, size matters — the bigger the table, the better. Nevermind the tables with separators — it’s the large tables that are made for individuals to sit. In fact, the Hillman ecosystem relies on people sitting alone at these large tables. When one person takes a table, groups have nowhere to go. Without these individuals taking up the big table, the cycle would fail, and what entertainment would the fourth floor have? It’s even better when the only material the individual is using is a laptop that takes up a small corner of a table.

  1. Drink an excessive amount of caffeine. It makes the bathrooms smell better.

I can’t discuss Hillman without mentioning the symphony that takes place in the bathrooms. Between nervousness for upcoming exams and food from around campus, there’s always a concert. But during finals week, as people add excessive amounts of caffeine to their diet, it will be like a show at Madison Square Garden. There’s nothing like entering the bathrooms on the first floor, and having all your senses halted by the sounds and smells of a quartet. So make sure to drink as much caffeine as possible so you too can add your piece of music to the symphony. Bonus points if you clog the toilet, ensuring that you have the final performance of the day.

  1. Make sure to never erase your whiteboards.

It’s important that you share your studies and let the dry erase board marinate for hours in Expo marker. This way, when someone needs to use that whiteboard later, they can forgo their classes and learn about something else instead. I mean, why should we limit what we study to just our classes? Isn’t that what a liberal arts degree is supposed to be — studying across disciplines? Let’s leave our whiteboards to bathe in Expo marker and enhance our learning so we can learn about classes that are not our own. Why should a physics major want to study physics when they could actually study the graphs of economics stamped on the board from hours earlier?

  1. Everyone wants to hear your life story, so please talk loudly and freely about whatever topic comes to mind.

The books and computers are a coverup for what Hillman really is — the social center of Pitt’s campus, where you can hear about the occurrences and challenges in everyone else’s life.

There’s nowhere else where you can learn what the group in the corner did over the weekend or what the inconsiderate roommate from the group sitting at the charging table did. You can find out the latest health problems from the person on the phone with their mom, and the full names of those who annoy the chemistry study group in the third floor rooms. We all must do our part to continue cultivating this social center and talk about whatever comes to our mind such as friends, schools and any other thoughts. And we must do so loudly, so anyone thinking about anything else — let’s say an upcoming test —- is instead immersed in your conversation.

  1. If you are about to cough, make sure to turn toward the person next to you. 

From the beginning, college is all about learning how to share. We’re often thrown into a dorm room with a stranger during our first year at Pitt, where we share household items, a living space and a bathroom. We’re encouraged to share our thoughts in classes so we can learn from one another, and in OMET surveys to help share with our professor what we did and did not like in a course. To embrace the sharing spirit of college, do not keep your germs to yourself, and instead share them with the rest of us. We all obviously want to get sick while we are going through the most stressful time of the semester.

  1. You should book study rooms just to practice seeing your name on the big screen.

It’s a myth that groups actually want to use the group study rooms, as groups are supposed to work in the quiet sections on the fourth floor. If you have any desire to see your name on a big screen someday — maybe as a famous director or actor — you should practice and book a room so your name can be displayed. But don’t actually use the room. With the room remaining empty, people will walk in since all the other group study spots are taken, they will stare at your name, and then walk out — which will give your name more publicity and set yourself up for a lifetime of fame.

  1. The smellier the food you bring to Hillman, the better. 

If you’re going to study all day, you will of course need some sustenance. But you can’t bring just any food in Hillman. No, it must be something so pungent that an aroma follows your journey to find a seat and then sails throughout the air ducts so everyone knows what you are eating. One suggestion I have is a tuna fish sandwich.

Hillman can be an intimidating place to study with its various floors, different types of seating and unspoken rules that people expect you to follow. I promise that if you follow my advice, you will be able to navigate Hillman like a pro and you, too, will seem like a regular.

Talia Spillerman writes about anything and everything. Write to her at [email protected].