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The “24-hour” Learning and Teaching Building (LTB): A Monash Tragedy

The words on the page of her textbook are starting to blur into black squiggles fighting for her attention. How long has she been here? She rubs the sleep from her eyes so furiously that she sees spots of light dance across her vision when she opens them. She had first heard of the 24-hour building on Monash’s infamous Stalkerspace.  The promise of a newly built, 24-hour study space, no longer an exclusive luxury for just the elite; the science students.

An end to the era of fumbling in her wallet for a non-existent science student ID card before being let in or hiding around the corner waiting to pounce at the opening doors when someone entered or left the science lounge. Now at long last, she, a humblearts student, would finally be able to indulge in the luxury of a 24-hourstudy space on campus. The promise of a better, fairer, more productive future for non-science students everywhere in Clayton, delivered in the form of the recently opened LTB.

And so here she is, at one in the morning, the night before an assignment worth 40% is due, emotionally and mentally prepared to pull an all-nighter.

She chugs the last few dregs of her now room temperature coffee from a plastic cup. Still thirsty, she reaches for her bag, fumbling inside till her fingers clasp around the neck of her drink bottle, only to be metwith what could only be described as enough for a sip, maybe two at best.

She glances at the screen, the cursor flashing at her mid-sentence. She has almost written half of her essay, andshe still has a bit more than 12 hours to go. This warrants a well-deserved break; one where drinking water will hopefully be procured.

Grabbing her drink bottle, she hesitates for a moment, gazing at her open textbooks, laptop and backpack scattered on the desk. She will only be gone for five maybe ten minutes tops. Who on earth would be around to steal her stuff at 1 am?

Confident in her decision, she walks down the stairs and through the doors into the crisp night air. Ah, it’s chilly, she glances back, wincing as she remembers that sheleft her jacket back inside. She briefly considers going back in to get it, but she won’t be too long, she isonly venturing to the nearest drinking fountain after all.

After filling up her drink bottle, she makes the short trek back to the LTB. She walks towards the front of the building, expecting the automatic doors to slide open.

 

They remain closed.

 

Confused, she takes a few steps back and strides back towards the doors.

Nothing.

She tries again. Bounds back and forwards like a crazed animal.

Ice cold dread drops low in her stomach.  Her head spins.

All her things are in there; her half-finished assignment, her jacket, herphone.

She needs to get back inside.

But how? She desperately scans the front foyer for any rogue students merciful enough to let her back in. But there is no one to be seen. She paces around the building, trying to find any sort of second entrance, but to no avail.

Why did they have to lock the doors? What a poor excuse for a “24-hour building.”

Should she scale the building? Try to set the fire alarm off so she can sneak back in while everyone is evacuating?

The adrenaline rush of sheer panic ebbs away, leaving her with a chill that goes straight to the bone.

She shivers. Maybe it is best to try to conserve heat while she waits for the doors to magically open again.

She sits with her back against the locked doors, drawing her knees to her chest, rubbing her legs with hands that have already started to become numb.

The need for sleep suddenly hits her all at once, the energy she had for staying awake to finish her assignment fizzling out and dissipating into the night air. A gust of icy wind blows past, digging its frozen fingers through the thin cloth of her shirt all the way to her ribs. She starts shivering more, convulsing violently.

If only I had brought my jacket out with me. Well, I would have if I had known the bloody doors lock after a particular time! Or I would never have left the building in the first place!

The first licks of rage start to flicker to the surface, the bitter cold and pressure of the ever-nearing deadline kindle the fire burning within her.

The marketing for the LTB was built on a web of lies! 24 hours? Ha! She should have known it was too good to be true. The science students must be chortling in their legitimate 24-hour lounge.

Another gust of wind sweeps her thoughts and bravado away, the fear of freezing to death much more prominent in her mind now.

 

It’s so cold.

 

Ice is seeping into her veins, travelling into her chest, the chill slowing down her heart.

The dark is closing in.

 

Everything is black.

 

In the morning they will find her body outside the LTB. With the sun creeping over the horizon, there will be no evidence of the sub-zero temperatures of the erratic Melbourne night, just a lifeless body, curled up to stay warm. At least now she is free at last from the torment of her deadlines and lies of the LTB.

Hopefully, she will serve as the martyrdom that will inspire and spark the change that Monash so desperately needs.

 

The MSA needs your help to demonstrate to the University just how many students would benefit from 24/7 access to the facility. We have launched a petition, and we implore you to sign it and comment explaining how a 24-hour study space will improve your student experience. We will present this petition to those conducting the review, as evidence supporting our work showing that there truly is a demand for a 24/7 study space –> msa.monash.edu/LTB

 

 

 

 

 

Joanne Fong

The author Joanne Fong

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