"Pat: Her Word Is Lauinger's Law" from The Hoya

An article from the student newspaper the Hoya entitled Pat: Her Word Is Lauinger’s Law; full text link is availble below

text by Jennifer Delaney (C’1992)
September 27, 1991

Georgetown University police officers staff the entrance to Lauinger Library at all hours of the day and night: signing in visitors, reminding thousands of people a year that smelly food is not allowed in the library, and making sure no one leaves with materials that are not checked out. Between 1977 to 2014, now retired GUPD Officer Patricia Watkins was a well-known presence at the Lauinger Library guard desk between 4 p.m. to midnight. Besides being a strict overseer of the building and its collections, she was also an adoptive mother and grandmother to many Georgetown students and staff. "Miss Pat", who still resides in Washington, D.C., was the subject of several articles, blog posts, and videos created by Georgetown students. She loved to interact with them and provide words of wisdom, inspiration, and support during the stressful evenings studying in Lau.

Read the full text of the article "Pat: Her Word is Lauinger's Law".


Pat: Her Word Is Lauinger's Law
Disciplining Soda Sippers and Book Snatchers Is All in a Day's Work For Pat Watkins

Patricia Watkins protects Lauinger Library from the evils of food, drink and ripped off reference books.

By Jennifer De Laney
HOYA Staff Writer

Patricia Watkins sat perched on her vinyl stool enclosed in a plexiglass and fiberboard cubical. She peered out over the edge of the counter separating her from the lobby area and scrutinized the packages of people exiting the building.

Yes, it's Pat, the Jamaican born "access controller" who protects Lauinger Library from the scourges of book stealing and soda sipping students.

Pat, who works the 4 p.m. to midnight shift at the Lauinger guard desk, is known for her strict enforcement of library policy. She can be frequently overheard stopping offending students in their tracks: "What do you think you're doing there. There's no food in the library!"

A disgruntled student turned around as Pat chuckled, "Students — they all do silly things."

Pat explained her occasional gruff manner with a laugh, "I don't spoil [the students.] I'm one of the strictest guards around. They know what they are supposed to do. I don't let them get away with anything."

Pat was born in Jamaica and moved to the United States 26 years ago. "I [moved] for adventure, like everything else. [Washington] is the first place I've been and I've never moved," she said.

She first came to Georgetown 14 years ago as an accounting assistant for the billing department. After several months, her current job became available and she switched departments to become a library security guard through the Department of Public Safety.

She is a widow and has a daughter, Karlene, who graduated from Georgetown's College of Arts and Sciences in 1988. Pat, however, has never wished to take up studies here at Georgetown. "I've taken no classes. I have no time for that. I work 40 hours a week here and 20 hours a week as a sales clerk at Hecht's [department store]." Pat had plans to quit her job at Hecht's but decided not to after the death of her husband. "I had to do something to keep my life full," she said. "I like to keep busy."

Lauinger's most infamous enforcer frequently has run-ins with students who are not obeying library policies.

"Sometimes people are obnoxious. A lot of times they'll come back later and apologize," she said. "If they're rude I'll really talk to them. We don't need to throw our problems at each other. We all have to deal with it."

Pat said she tries to be sympathetic when people are short with her, and hopes students will be understanding of her as well. "You sometimes run into someone who's in a bad mood. But what can you do? You can't hang the guy. You write it off as a bad experience or as someone with a lot of problems. But I forgive them .... I'm just doing my job."

Not all students are so forgiving of her disciplinary tactics. "I asked her why I had to open my bag, and all she would say is 'because the sign says,"' said Terri Anderson (SLL '95).

One of the hardest parts of her job, claimed Pat, is catching students who are stealing books from the library. "I have to use my discretion. It's not my place to pass judgment. Sometimes it might really be a mistake," she said. "I have to turn them in to [the circulation department] and lecture them on honesty, as well as write up a report for the Department of Public Safety."

Deciding whether or not the student accidentally picked up a book or was purposely trying to steal it is often very difficult, said Pat. When the student seems to have genuinely made a mistake, she is left to decide whether to "forget about the incident" or get the student in trouble by turning them over to the circulation department for adjudication. "I try to be a fair judge and relay the story to the circulation department just like it was told to me."

The occasional attempts at thievery by students can add excitement to the otherwise tiresome duty of examining backpacks. "Everyone tries to rip off a book," said Pat. "One very nice young lady had [a book] hidden down in her clothes. I had to take her to the bathroom to capture the book. I was so embarrassed."

A much more common problem is student carrying food and drinks into the library. "I get to know a lot of kids by stopping them with their coffee cups," said Pat. "Some of them become good friends with me after a while. I tell them, take a break from your studies and go enjoy your coffee outside."

Pat said she was often amused at the more obvious attempts to conceal their victuals. "They stuff things into their sweater and I say, 'What's wrong with your stomach, are you expecting a baby?' They laugh and do a U-turn to go outside and eat [their] food," she chuckled.

Sepeedeh Heravi (SFS '93) was one student who was nabbed with her coffee mug in hand. "Pat saw me with my coffee and told me to take it outside," said Heravi. "But then she said I couldn't exit through the entrance door. I felt trapped."

Pat also keeps an eye on events within the library on her closed circuit television that is connected to cameras throughout the floors. "I see everything. I watch [the closed circuit TV] all the time. I know very well if they're not studying. I say to them 'All you're doing is talking. If you don't sit down and study, I'm going to kick you out."'

Pat is also a part-time philosopher and a full-time idealist. "Pat's very wise and very deep,'' Heravi said. Pat loves to give advice to students and even goes so far as to recite inspirational poetry to them. "They get down with exams and papers. I tell them poems to cheer them up," she said.

Pat admitted she often lectures students on the value of education. "Georgetown's a very expensive school. Get the best out of it. You can lose everything, but they can't take your education away from you." Pat also stressed the value of public service and said how impressed she was with student participation in volunteer programs throughout the District. "They're students and are here to study. If they can take time out to do public service then we all should help. I really admire these kids," she said.

Pat claimed to have only one goal for the future: to win the lottery, but not because she wants to retire in the lap of luxury far away from Lauinger and her polyester DPS uniform. Instead, she hopes to take her winnings and open up an orphanage for under-privileged children. "I want to take care of all the unwanted kids who really need help. I visited an orphanage when I was about 12 and I've always wanted to open one ever since for needy kids who would never have a chance in school."

Although her orphanage plans are currently on hold, Pat does find the time to do some work for charity. She does her part by soliciting donations for the American Cancer Society through the Ugliest Person on Campus Contest, which is sponsored every year by the service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega. "I win (the contest] every year," she said. "I'm a little rat. I'll catch someone smooching in the library with his girlfriend and I'll ask him to make a donation. It's for a good cause."

This DPS employee said that she doesn't seek notoriety nor does she seek to inspire fear in library frequenters, she just wants to chat with students and do her job. "I never want anyone to be scared of me. No, I'm just Pat,'' she said. '' I don't want fame and this and that... I just like to be an ordinary person." ,