The Habit of Privilege

In the library of a school that will remain unnamed, where I may or may not work, there is an elevator (in a bank of seven others) which is intended to be used exclusively by administrative staff. It runs directly to the top floor of the building, which is where the administrative offices are located, and does not stop on any of the intervening 10 floors.

Now, during the school year, this is a great deal for the admin staff. It means they don’t have to deal with the hordes of undergraduates who pile onto the elevators at every floor, crushing you into the wall with their oversized bags, all while holding incredibly inane conversations on their cellphones at very high volumes. Their ride is faster, less annoying, and far more dignified. If I were going to go all Foucault on you, I would talk about the similarities between a prison and the library, with the undergraduates/inmates kept separate from the administrators/wardens. But I’m not going there.

What I’ve noticed is that, even when school is out of session and there are five or six elevators sitting idle, the administrative staff will still go to the one elevator, even if that means waiting for five minutes while it comes down from the eleventh floor.

So what’s that all about? Privilege, habit, or the habit of privilege?