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This semester I am taking a course called Issues in International Development with Professor Michael Levien (JHU_Caroline’s in it, too!). In this class, we read James C. Scott’s Seeing Like a State. Basically, Scott seeks to explain why development projects have failed from a state’s point of view. He attributes this failure to a combination of four elements: state simplification, high-modernist ideology, authoritarian state power, and a weak civil society. It’s a great read, definitely recommend it!

In this virtual, highly fictitious class otherwise known as my blog, we are going to explore “C”-ing Like a Student. In this excerpt, I seek to describe C-Level of the MSE Library from a student’s point of view. There are four elements that are crucial to understanding C-level: the noise level, the habitual practices of the occupants, the ability to covertly consume food, and the unspoken camaraderie that has formed between the regulars.

1) The Noise Level

If you’ve ever visited Hopkins, you know that the Milton S. Eisenhower Library (MSE, or the Lib) consists of six floors: Q, M, A, B, C, and D. As you go down, the noise level significantly decreases. C-Level is definitely quieter than the upper levels, but not to the you-can-hear-a-pin-drop degree characteristic of D-Level. Although the occasional whisper and chatter from nearby study rooms are audible, C-Level is the perfect study spot for students who wish to work in a quieter environment.

2) The Habitual Practices of the Occupants

The more time you spend on C-Level, the better you get at identifying certain habits in which most, if not all, students partake. Students frequently swap out the chairs with arm rests with those that do not. The comfy computer chairs are occasionally swiveled over to the tables, as well. Depending on the student and their study habits, some opt for the individual cubicles over the twelve tables in the open space.


I prefer the open space of C-Level over cubicles

3) The Ability to Covertly Consume Food


Ah, food. Trying to sneak food into the library is a relatively easy feat; consuming it, however, is another matter entirely. On C-Level, there are certain obstacles that students must overcome in order to eat their newly-bought Chipotle (you wouldn’t believe what I’ve seen people eating here). There are various librarians whose offices are near the tables, staff that constantly walk past to reshelve books, and security guards on their rounds. I have witnessed many a student’s to-go-boxes make their way to the trash can. Nevertheless, the ingenuity of Hopkins students prevails and you can often smell someone’s dinner waft through the air.


Today’s daily snack menu

4) The Unspoken Camaraderie of the Regulars

As I mentioned in some of my earlier posts, I worked at Chipotle my junior and senior years of high school. Throughout the course of the year, I got to know the regulars and memorized their orders. Sometimes we’d even have their burrito ready by the time they walked through the door. Other regulars were given free meals because of their dedication. I can proudly say that I’m a regular to C-Level, along with a few other lucky students. Although I do not know these students’ names, I know what stickers adorn their laptops and the color of their water bottles (call it creepy, but I’m a very observant person). I am also familiar with the time at which they come to C. If someone isn’t in his or her usual area, I find myself wondering what could have kept them from stopping by – probably a club meeting or something like that. To a non-C-Leveler, this might seem a little worrisome; however, I find solace in C-Level. It’s my study space, a place where I can work productively – a necessity for a Hopkins student. Other students have the Hut or the Brody Reading Room. For me, I have C.

And there you have it, an excerpt from “C”-ing Like a Student: A Student’s Perspective on C-Level.