How to Be: Asking out a TA, sharing notes and handling library loudmouths

(How do you tell someone in the library to be quiet?)

Dear Konrad,

I was in the basement of Koerner Library trying to study for my exams. I went to Koerner because it is designated for silent study. I had already moved desks to get away from a group of people who wouldn’t stop talking. Just as I got back into my studying groove, a couple sat down near me and wouldn’t shut up. What’s the appropriate way to handle the situation?

–Kranky in Koerner

Get them quiet without a riot

There are plenty of places on campus to make conversation, but silent study space is at a premium, especially at peak hours. When somebody rudely refuses to follow the rules, you can take a passive or an active approach. Moving away from people is one solution, but it only works temporarily. You may also bring noise cancelling headphones and play some non-distracting music.

Asking people to be quiet is the most effective solution, but it can be uncomfortable if you dislike confrontation. When someone around you starts talking, take a one-minute study break. If the conversation lasts longer than that, it is time to ask nicely. In a polite library voice, say something like, “Sorry to interrupt — I’m talkative myself — but I have lots of studying to do. That’s why I came to this silent study area. Can you please stop talking?” If they still don’t get the message, glance at them a few times, then ask again in a less friendly manner.

• • •

Dear Konrad,

It was the last class of my econ class, and this guy out of nowhere comes and asks if he could borrow my notes. I want to say no, but I don’t want to seem mean. But I’ve never seen him before and he doesn’t deserve it! But he also said he was sick. I don’t know what to believe. Should I give him my notes? (I’ll see him at the review session later this week, so I need an answer by then.)

–Notes McGoats

Not(es) so fast!

It isn’t mean to be assertive. You likely got your notes by going to class and reading the textbook. Letting a classmate borrow them is no small favour, especially when you don’t even know the person. Whoever is asking you is well aware of this, and chances are he tried getting them off of someone else before you. It doesn’t matter why he needs them; there are resources for students who miss school because of a legitimate illness.

From what I can tell, you don’t feel comfortable sharing your notes, but still want to help somehow. You can suggest he visit one of the many course note websites where he can find previous years’ notes and assignments from your specific course that other students have uploaded. If you want, offer to study together. Helping him learn the material might give you a better understanding, and perhaps a new friend as well.

• • •

Dear Konrad,

My TA is so cute and I think we get along really well (though I suppose that’s kind of her job). I want to ask her out, but I knew I couldn’t until the term was over. Now it’s over, and I want to ask her to grab a coffee before she leaves for break. But we still have our final exam, which she’ll be grading some of, and I don’t know if it’s okay to ask her out before the final. Thoughts?

–Heartstruck in History

Got a crush on your TA? Don’t make your move right away

As you are aware, this poses some ethical problems. I am in no position to advise you on UBC’s policies; that’s something your TA would know more about. Even if there is nothing against meeting for coffee with students, however, it might present a conflict of interest when she marks your final. It could also make her look bad if your professor found out. For this reason, she may decline even if she does like you, and you’ll never know why!

Since there isn’t much time left in the year, there is some urgency here. Before your final, you can add her as a friend on Facebook if you haven’t already. This will be a good way to stay in touch and possibly find out when she is leaving. Once you write your exam, wait a few days and then ask her to get together “when she is free.” She will likely be finished marking and you’ll have a better chance.

Good luck!

Source: The UBYSSEY

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