By Anna Lipari

HSSC– Most Grinnell students are familiar with the feeling of hopeless rage induced when their study group is forced to work at an atrium table- or worse, a room in Noyce- because all the HSSC rooms are taken up by individual students working alone. There are hundreds of desks for individual quiet study in Burling, we grouse; what gives you the right to take that valuable co-working space? The B&S recently interviewed Digby W. Saltine III, a third year economics major and self-identified room-hogger, to investigate what drives this sort of behavior.

“I really don’t think I’m better than anyone else,” Saltine drawls, his feet propped up on the teacher’s desk of one of the third-floor North auditoriums. “I’m just not afraid to take life by the reins.” He takes a sip from one of the army of global cafe cups spread out across the room. One of the B&S interview team, having just come from a biology group project session that took place in the freezer room at the Spencer Grill, begins to drool with jealousy. “I wake up early, and the first thing I do before I head to the gym is set my backpack down in an empty room, and it’s there waiting for me when I get back to study later in the day.” 

“Do you ever worry your things will be stolen?” the reporter asks, and Saltine shakes his head.

“I leave my laptop open, so it looks like I’ve just gone to the bathroom. It doesn’t matter if I’m gone for hours at a time; no one is willing to risk it.” 

“Do you ever feel bad about using the entire room?” the reporter asks. Her professional decorum is nearly airtight, but her interview partner notices her trembling hands. “Students tend to complain about these spaces being monopolized by one person.” 

Saltine smirks, rotating slowly in his comfortable swivel chair. “I empathize with their plight. I really do. But the opportunity to better themselves is there, if they’re willing to reach out and firmly grasp it. If I ever can’t find a classroom I just pick the room I want, stand outside it, and stare into the occupants’ eyes as I book the room on 25live and then kick them all out. I don’t feel bad about it. I have to prioritize my needs, after all, and I study best when there’s natural light.”

“But that’s wrong! That’s immoral! How do you not demonstrate any empathy for your fellow human beings?” At this point the interview is cut short, as the B&S reporter has to be restrained by her coworker to prevent her from diving across the desk and throttling Saltine. 

Requests to continue the interview with Saltine have gone unanswered, with his roommate claiming that he hasn’t been seen since the night of the first interview. We visited his usual study room in search of further comment, and found the B&S reporter and her biology group enjoying the room, practicing for a final presentation on “natural selection.”