By Courtney Aldrich

The fall semester has begun. The campus is suddenly cluttered again, and there’s no chance of getting a seat to yourself on the bus. Best friends are moving back in together, and chemistry partners have suddenly reconnected. Between the multitude of questions freshmen ask and the girlish screams from the quad down the hall, USM transitions in a week from the emptiness of the summer to the ‘hellos,’ ‘how are yous’ and ‘I’ve missed yous’ of welcome week.  Knowing this, the fact that students are going to be catching up with everyone from the kid in last semester’s class to the Aramark staff is unavoidable. Just be advised that not every place you run into familiar faces is an appropriate location to disclose your private or well-known information.

1. The bus

The bus ride between Portland and Gorham has got to be one of the few spots where you can get away with politely ignoring the person sitting close enough to you to read all of your texts. More likely than not there are less than two or three conversations taking place at any given time during that awkward ride to class. So next time you slide in next to your best friend and divulge some sort of personal matter, be aware that everyone aboard is bored. As they blankly stare out the window pretending to listen to an imaginary iPod, they have definitely learned more about your life in that 30 minute commute than your own mother knows.

2. Dorm bathrooms

No matter how loud that stream of water feels in the shower of a residence hall bathroom, the echo of the room guarantees that your off key voice is without a doubt heard four doors down. When congregating with a group of people, just one inappropriate remark about the roommates down the hall and that voice can be carried right to their door. Who knows who could walk out of a bathroom stall while you’re brushing your teeth and complaining about your roommate’s boyfriend who made out with some random guy on your floor last night.  It’s best to keep those words in your head instead of the public bathroom.

3. Study rooms

Both libraries in Portland and Gorham have these great places called study rooms in the learning commons. The rooms can comfortably accommodate study partners, tutors and a whole bunch of your friends. The study spaces have windows, doors and for some strange reason once a somewhat rowdy crowd shuts the door behind them they act as if they have just jumped through a black hole outside of the library, USM, and very, very, very far from other students quietly at work. I’ve heard heated arguments, friends venting about other friends and private information about fellow students I only see once in a while. The study rooms aren’t as soundproof as most may think. Trust me. And honestly, no one really cares that you’re a virgin.

4. The breakfast line at Brooks Dining hall

If you live on campus, and you’re up early enough to make it to breakfast, you’re in the minority. When the line at the grill totals 10 or so people, strangers start to talk, and no one else in line can do anything but listen. Suddenly a couple of friends hop in the back of the line and start chattering about how hard they partied the night before and instantly it is everyone’s business how hungover they are. I’m just trying to get some pancakes, folks.

5. Anywhere near a dorm (Seriously, we can hear you everywhere)

The courtyard of Upton-Hastings must have been designed to try and prevent gossiping. The architects probably thought that the students would figure out that standing in the center of the horseshoe shaped structure with windows surrounding on three sides would enable active eavesdropping and therefore would discourage students from offensive chit chat. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and everything said outside is much too clear. Same story goes for the wide-open lobby of Philippi and the one stairwell in Anderson that everybody must use. And for those living in Dickey-Wood who can’t help but try and enjoy listening to the beats being blasted two floors below an open window. Let’s face it, pretty much everyone on campus is at risk.


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